Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The "Problem"

There is a marked escalation of the international pressure on the Syrian regime today, Turkey's foreign minister has announced sanctions and a freezing of assets for the Syrian regime. He's stated outright that Turkey will not deal with a Syrian government unless it is "legitimate", and most ominously:

"If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as a buffer zone," he said.
 Over the past month, a solid case has been meticulously put in place condemning the Syrian regime. In a sense I don't blame the regime for getting desperate, as there is nothing it can do to stay in power, which is its ultimate goal. All paths lead to an eventual removal of the Assad regime from rule, and that is something which the inner circles of that family will refuse to countenance.

From a more personal perspective, I had a worrying insight into the mentality of some people I know who have been extremely vocal in their support of the Syrian revolution, but to the point of adopting an extremely sectarian approach to what is happening. Last night I was having dinner with some friends at a restaurant owned and run by a Lebanese Sunni Muslim from Tripoli. He asked us what we would do about the "problem" in the South, ie. Hezbullah.

"We won't forget you", said one Syrian I was sitting with, a journalist who was extremely pro-Saudi in his politics and an admirer of the late Rafiq Hariri.

"No you won't, you'll forget about us", said the Lebanese man.

"No, we won't, but the Syrian people will, they have a short memory", said the Syrian. "They [Hezbullah] will have to strip down even to their underwear, believe me!"

"You must be joking. Listen, they are armed to the teeth. From their young to the very old, they are all holding on to their weapons and would never let go. We are talking about a war of extermination. That is the only way", said the Lebanese man, matter-of-factly.

The fact that they were talking about such things so comfortably in front of me, at all even, was surprising to me. This same discussion is being mirrored by people who support Hezbullah and Iran, and believe that Sunni Islam is now a tool of the West that needs to be destroyed utterly. I sat and sipped at my tea quietly, and shuddered at what might happen if people like these took over one day.

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