Sunday, July 08, 2012

On Sami Ramadani's CiF Syria Piece

One scene in Muhammad al Maghout's famous play, "A Toast to the Nation", comes to mind often whenever I read some of the commentary surrounding Syria. In that scene, a man with a grievance against the state for the murder of his child is lectured about the suffering of people in Cambodia and Nicaragua, that imperialism comes in a thousand guises, and that what is his suffering compared to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in the Third World. Incredulously, the poor man asks the official if he really believes what he is saying, upon which the latter breaks down crying.

The same thing happens today when you broach the topic of Syria with certain writers in the West. They respond with slogans and dogma that belong to another time and place, as if we are living in the sixties or seventies, or as if we are still living in the days of the Cold War. Even the Iraq invasion was over ten years ago, and for those who know anything about politics, Iraq's occupation by the United States unofficially ended in 2008 and was replaced, equally unofficially, by Iran's. And yet, if you read Sami Ramadani's recent piece in the Guardian's CiF, you'd think that we are still in 2003 and that the last sixteen months never happened:
The 2003 occupation of Iraq, however, did not go according to plan, and Israel was defeated in Lebanon in 2006. The downfall of US-Saudi allies Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, raised more alarms, leading to the Nato bombing of Libya. Today's target is Syria, which is at the heart of what Jordan's King Abdullah called the "Shia crescent": Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
He effortlessly jumps from the 2006 war in Lebanon to Syria, and conveniently forgets that Gaddafi had become the West's best friend, and that Libya's oil was already being made available for the 'evil imperialist enemy'. But never mind that little inconvenient detail as Ramadani continues to lecture his readers that the great enemy is imperialism.

In the midst of this lecturing, Ramadani surprisingly finds the time to mention the violent crushing of the, "Bahraini people's uprising". No word is made of the violent crushing of the Syrian people's uprising, or of the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced, murdered or imprisoned by the Assad regime. In fact his entire article never mentions Assad's name once.

Ramadani feigns concerns for Syria's minorities, because he has a priori concluded that this is a Sunni revolution, bankrolled by the West, and yet made it clear in no uncertain terms that in Bahrain it was a  "people's uprising". He quotes uncritically from the pro-Iranian Press TV website, but also insists on ignoring the role that the Syrian regime had in allowing jihadists into Iraq following the American occupation of that country. The 2008 Sednaya prison massacre is widely believed to be a culling of some of these jihadists after their usefulness expired. On Syriacomment, you can find the text of Ghaith Abdul Ahad's report on Syria as a focal point for jihadists entering into Iraq. How could something have happened in pre-2011 Syria without permission from the Syrian regime, when each Imam's speech is vetted and monitored to ensure that they do not say anything subversive? And why was the Imam instrumental in this policy of encouraging jihadists into Iraq assassinated in 2007? And by whom? And what happened to his killers? The extent of the Syrian regime's involvement with the horrendous violence in occupied Iraq is something which is consistently ignored by such faux anti-imperialists. Because based on their flawed logic, the market bombings and decapitations that took place are not as bad as the fact that the United States had invaded the country. So it is today with Syria, and the fact that they ignore an entire country's revolt against dictatorship and brutality simply because it is not their priority, so busy are they with denouncing the 'Great Satan'.

Throughout this terrible piece, Ramadani's sympathies become very clear, and these sympathies do not lie with the Syrian people or with those who have been murdered so far. The big question is why the Guardian is starting to allow such one-sided writing on Syria from somebody who clearly has no idea about the country, and seems intent on peddling one particular view and ideology in his articles. Ramadani's nonsense would be better suited for Press TV or SANA.

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