Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Berating the Arab "Resistance" Crowd

There really has to be a study done on the behaviour of some individuals towards the Syrian revolution. Although they had placed themselves at the forefront of the Palestinian cause, and were the first to cry foul whenever an injustice was done, they have, in spite of their best efforts at maintaining an appearance of impartiality, appeared to be the ugliest of supporters of the Syrian regime.

Whether there is a conspiracy against the Syrian regime or not, you are supporting the murder of innocent Syrians when you refuse, not only to condemn the Syrian regime, but to leave the Syrian people to the vagaries and butchery of Assad's security services in order to be "fair to both sides". There is only one side here, a side that is butchering people, and a side that is being butchered.

I find there is a lack of consistency between those who, for example, insist on the highest levels of journalistic integrity when it comes to Syria, and yet feel free to distribute YouTube videos of Bahrain, or the Qatif protests in Eastern Saudi Arabia, without subjecting activists there to the same level of scrutiny. Furthermore, mistakes by Syrian activists are unforgivable, but mistakes by activists from countries run by "sell-out" regimes, are ignored and sometimes even excused. The story of the baby incubators is now cited as an unforgivable example that Syrian activists cannot be trusted, but thousands of videos documenting Assad's brutality are conveniently ignored. If those same videos were surfacing from Bahrain, or Yemen, or Egypt, these same "pro-resistance" activists would be screaming bloody murder.

Then we are told that the Syrian revolution is run by the Muslim Brotherhood, and that they are lousy and not to be trusted, but the Muslim Brotherhood were also active in Egypt and yet the Egyptian revolution is placed on an altar of sanctity with retweets on Twitter, or quotes on Facebook, which are consistently against the currently ruling SCAF, and completely with the protests - even though the protest movements in Egypt are a multitude of leftist, secularist, salafist and Muslim Brotherhood members. Yet in Syria the fact that there are also salafists who are outspoken about the regime's repression means there is a de facto condemnation that Syria's revolution has been hijacked, or that it is run by the 'Wahhabi' Saudis.They miss - or ignore - the point that there is not a single revolution in history that was a monolithic mass with one ideology, and there has never been a revolution that was not free from foreign interference and scheming. But to them the Syrian revolution must be killed before it was ever born, and when it has already been born, it must be shunned and left to die because it is the wrong kind of revolution and does not live up to their ideals.

Some deride the Syrian revolutions slogans, and make snide remarks about the cultural and linguistic lack of "merit" of the slogans in comparison with other revolutions - as if this is some kind of creativity contest (the Syrian slogans are in fact widely admired as the most creative and catchy of slogans in the Arab world so far). These same people then equate the politically fragmented and long repressed Syrian opposition as representative of the Syrian revolution, and wish to double the burden of the Syrian people by insisting that the revolution has to remain "pure" and that they must fight both the opposition's political figures, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the regime. I say that is cruel and stupid. In the face of overwhelming brutality, you are lecturing people on the niceties of revolutionary principles from across a sea and an ocean. It is like telling the protesters in Bahrain that, whilst there is a state policeman breaking your legs, you must insist on crying out against Iran as well as Saudi Arabia, otherwise your revolution is not pure enough and unworthy of their support.

There are many words I could tell such people, but I won't use such language. The Syrian revolution does not need you; the Syrian people don't need you; and the Palestinian cause you so dogmatically and ardently champion - for whatever reason - certainly does not need you.


Rime said...

I cannot thank you enough for this post! You have so patiently and eloquently described what many of us simply feel like shouting. The behavior of all these people has been despicable, and their fake morality and insufferable pretense of expertise is killing the Syrian people, figuratively and perhaps even literally.

qunfuz said...

well said. all these people who claim to treasure Arab blood in Palestine while siding with mass murderers of Arabs in Syria are the most despicable of hypocrites and posers.

Voltaire said...

I completely agree. I'm so glad there are people such as yourself finally acknowledging the authoritarian double standard politics of this decaying 'resistance' crowd.

Being of mixed Lebanese and Palestinian background, I cannot express how much insensitive, thoughtless, offensive, hateful and inhumane rubbish I have heard from people calling themselves part of this 'resistance'. The Syrian regime is a regime of criminals, just like all other despots of the Arabic-speaking world. Despots who have been demagogically using the Palestinian crisis to justify their crimes.

When there was a movement in Lebanon- from all sections of society, starting in the early 1990s- to work for ending the Assad regime's occupation and hegemony over Lebanon, we were attacked by this so called 'resistance'. We were attacked from all directions, intellectually and physically, just as you have expressed. We were accused of being 'Israeli', 'American puppets' etc. In fact, we still are. Democratic humanists are still being attacked by this 'resistance crowd', although now our struggle is very much regional.

Thank you for your post.

Maysaloon said...

Thanks guys, I believe we should not be shy to point out the hypocrisy of such positions, and when self-proclaimed anti-imperialists start crying foul only when the West is guilty and not when the Rest are guilty then you have to wonder why they ever called themselves anti-imperialist in the first place.

annie said...

I have practically broken up with some of my leftist friends over their "politically correct" position towards the Syrian Revolution which is at the same time totally blind to the reality in the field and to the aspirations of the Syrian people.
They perform a desk analyses which will condone the extermination of the resistance. Thank you Maysaloon.

Musa...Arab from Palestine said...

I fully agree with you observations and analysis. Those individuals had failed the most important of all tests: the moral or ethical one. One example of their application of double-standards when it comes to Syria and the Palestinian cause is their attitude towards the UN Commission on Human Rights or Amnesty International reports on Syria. When those two organizations condemned Israel's attack on Gaza and issued reports on its violation of Palestinian human rights, the two organizations were celebrated and their reports were defended by those activists against Zionist claims that the reports were untrue. However, when those two (and other) organizations issued reports documenting official Syrian crimes against the Syrian revolution, those same activists turned against the two international organizations, questioning their veracity and condemning their reports. In other words, they played the same role that Israel played against the two organizations when they issued reports against its attack on Gaza a couple of years ago. This is much more than hypocrisy on their part. It is pathological hypocrisy of the worst kind.

m said...

thanks for the post, however, i think you are neglecting important points regarding why some people might post unverifiable videos from countries like bahrain (and also egypt and yemen) and not syria. in bahrain the videos emerging show clear injustice in the sense that it is oppressed (unarmed protester) being brutalized by the oppresser (armed riot police). of course the violence in bahrain is not as extreme as in syria currently and it's easier to obtain this footage without risking death, whereas in syria it's become an armed conflict in many areas and getting clear video can be difficult. and when that video is available from syria, especially over recent months, most of it shows army shooting at unknown targets, dead bodies on the ground and unarmed protests with no police/army repression. these arent the kind of videos being shared from bahrain, which show, for example, police firing teargas at or beating protesters in one shot.

if you have video that you feel people aren't sharing why dont you post it on your blog so we can then disseminate it? all i see currently is footage of people chanting and protesting. or please direct your followers to a location where we can find this footage.

there is also the fact that video from bahrain (and yemen) isn't being aired regularly on the major satellite news networks, eg AJA/AJE, Arabiya, and the many others. syria, however, is headline news on a daily basis and the unverifiable video footage is usually broadcasted. online activists may feel like if they dont post footage from bahrain constantly the country will be ignored as it has largely been since february despite protests continuing on a daily basis. lists of arab countries in revolt regularly omit bahrain, which understandably upsets bahraini and solidarity activists who feel they have to respond by making more noise about the uprising there.

mgb said...


You are entitled to wonder, as many have done, why there are people able to demonstrate in large numbers without being shot at, but the reason is simple, it is because the FSA fighters have made certain areas safe for people to demonstrate, and without the protection of the FSA, the regime's thugs and troops would be all over the place killing and arresting.

Maysaloon said...

Firstly I did not cast any doubt on the integrity of videos coming from Yemen or Bahrain. I have stated that, all things being the same, videos from Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen are in fact the same, unverifiable by media standards, but each respective citizen knows what his country's regime is capable of, and we know when those videos are real.

I'm quite surprised by your differentiation between videos from Bahrain and Syria. You speak about the Syrian videos as if all that is available are those of people marching and chanting, which is not true. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of videos documenting clear brutality, torture and abuse of Syrian civilians at the hands of the security services and these are as vicious to watch as anything emerging from Bahrain.

I would suggest you search for Sham SNN on Youtube, or simply type in Syria, and you will immediately find hundreds of these videos. At the least, you will find a thread to follow that will show you far more (and worse). In fact I have only recently posted a Youtube clip which showed the abuse of a Syrian at the hands of the security services, and not just being shot at from afar.

paola pisi said...

I couldn't agree more . yet also the story of the baby incubators is absolutely true . These are the videos showing the newborn babies killed in the neonatal unit in El Assad hospital in Hama due to the electricity cut (4-Aug-2011 ) http://www.uruknet.info/?p=80840 http://uruknet.info/?p=m81042 As at the time i wrote to Ali Abunimah, who allegedly "debunked" the incubators story (before the videos came out : http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/how-cnn-helped-spread-hoax-about-syrian-babies-dying-incubators ) , the pic was false, but the story was probably true, and the false pic was spread on twitter maybe by pro-regime guys to undermine the crediblity of the syrian opposition. A FEW MINUTE LATER all the syrian opposition's social network warned against the false pic (i too published a warning on my fb). Anyway I didn't post the news on my website , since i wasn't 100% sure it was true. I published it only when in Hama the electricity returned & the videos came out (they were published by hundreds of arab wesites & blogs. The west instead is not interersted in Assad's crimes).

N.Z. said...

Dear Maysaloon,

I did forward your post to many on my mailing list, will like to share this with you. Thanks a lot.
This must be the most concise, articulate, forceful, and above all, truthful argument against the rather hypocritical, indeed downright foolish, positions taken by some people regarding the heroic struggle of the people of Syria against the criminal Assad's regime and his totally Un-Syrian, Un-Arab, and In-human beasts that are mistakenly called "security forces."

Any self-respecting person who thinks that the thugs who are brutalizing the noble people of Syria are capable of liberating the occupied Arab lands must be either insane or blind (or both) because this criminal regime, like that of the criminal Saddam Hussein of Iraq, has inflicted untold suffering and destruction upon the very Syrian people who have always viewed their country as the "throbbing heart of Arabism." When it comes to the struggle for freedom, and with it dignity (and this is precisely what the ongoing Syrian revolution is all about), there is NO room for neutrality, because neutrality in this case is equal to complicity in the crime which is being perpetuated by Assad's regime against the entire people of Syria, indeed against humanity. From its very inception, the despotic Assad's regime was NOT a legitimate one, and the more brutality it uses against the people of Syria the more illegitimate it becomes. The regime has to be removed because it has desecrated the sanctity of Syria's soil and the innate cultural nobility of the people of Syria.

Justice seeker said...

I think the reason so many, who are opposed to tyrannical regimes (the Assad regime clearly being one of them), are confused about showing full unconditional support for the revolution in syria is the disappointment in the lack of objective reporting of the ongoings in Syria. I regret to say that I find the anti-regime propaganda to be quite baffling and almost as misleading as the regime's own propaganda machine! It has caused confusion and undermined the protest movement's credibility.

The Egyptian revolution had and continues to have a completely different anatomy to that of the Syrian one, despite the presence of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist elements.

I agree with M that Al Arabiyya and Al Jazeera and the blatant support of Saudi Arabia (for crying out loud!!) for the toppling of the regime has been damaging for your cause. Not to mention the SNC, the Free Syrian Army, and the calls for NATO intervention.

How can you blame us for not knowing what to think?

Worst of all is the attitude of the revolutionaries (and their supporters) on facebook and elsewhere who instantly sling accusations of being a regime supporter as soon as you voice any doubts about a conspiracy. Even if you make it clear that you are in favour of the protesters on the street and concerned about the blood shed. Even if you emphasize that you are anti-regime, any arab regime, any oppressive regime. The fact that you are wondering out loud whether we're seeing the full picture is incriminating - it's not allowed!! You're either with us or against us. It's like post 9/11 America where the moment you questioned the wisdom of America's foreign policy in the Middle East, you were instantly branded as an Al Qaida apologist.

Until people like yourself voice their outrage at the elements that have possibly hijacked your revolution, and are able to address the issues, and use rational arguments and evidence to support your stance instead of mudslinging and intimdation, then you are doing your cause a disservice.

Thank you.

Justice seeker said...

Just to add:

The fact that the same people who are ardent supporters of the Palestinian cause and the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions are reluctant to show unconditional support for the Syrian revolution should give you a clue that perhaps something isn't quite adding up.

It's not enough to post pictures of dead corpses in order to prove the regime's brutality. That isn't the question!!! Most (except for those who are actually regime supporters) wouldn't dream of questioning it - what they are questioning is

1) To what extent is this revolution homegrown

2) Is there significant outside intervention

3) Is there significant outside financing

4) Despite all the sarcastic posts (not yours, but some of your posse) about Syria not being Iraq or Lebanon, there are legitimate fears about it descending into civil war. Belittling those fears and laughing them off isn't a convincing argument.

Think about it...

Maysaloon said...

Dear Justice Seeker,

You say:

Until people like yourself voice their outrage at the elements that have possibly hijacked your revolution, and are able to address the issues, and use rational arguments and evidence to support your stance instead of mudslinging and intimdation, then you are doing your cause a disservice.

I'm sorry, but we don't have to do anything to 'earn' your support any more than Palestinians need to do anything to "prove" their worthiness of a state. The Syrian people do not have to justify their revolution in anybody's eyes.

That there are parties which wish to capitalise on this revolution is hardly surprising and at this moment in time, not much of a priority when it is the Syrian regime that is murdering the very people it is supposed to be protecting. I find it insulting that you expect myself and others like me to "voice our outrage" against parties that have "possibly" hijacked this revolution when there is a regime that has killed over five thousand Syrian civilians. Perhaps you dispute the figures, and let's say that only one thousand Syrians have been murdered so far. Is that any less outrageous?

Let us also say, for the sake of argument, that there are armed Salafist groups which have been attacking the army and police. Does this justify shelling Hama and Homs, killing unarmed demonstrators, and abusing them? The anti-imperialist brigade screamed bloody murder when they saw photographs of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, or when the United States attacked and demolished most of Fallujah. So what is it about Syria's revolution specifically that has failed to live up to your expectations when we are seeing precisely the same behaviour from the Syrian regime?

I have never used mudslinging or intimidation, and find this accusation rather amusing were the situation not so dire. Since the start of this revolution, I have written post after post where I have discussed my rationale and arguments over and over. Where I have criticised I've also provided the rationale behind my argument. So please don't lecture me about having a reasoned debate, and - as this blog will attest - I am the last person you need to pontificate to about the dangers of Western domination and exploitation.

To conclude, I think if I were to similarly apply your demands of the Syrian people to the Palestinian people, you begin to sound just like a Zionist. So perhaps it is you that must "think about it..."

Jillian said...

Nothing unique to say, just that this is excellent and will be helpful when encountering the leftists here who still support Assad in their supposed quest against imperialism...

Justice seeker said...

My intention was not to insult you.

The Syrian regime is brutal tyrannical and oppressive and has been for 40 years. It's not to be trusted. We agree on that.

What I don't agree with is saying if you're against A then you should side with B.

I side with the people of your country. But it doesn't mean that I agree with their judgement on who the bigger enemy is: their own government, or the US/Isreali/Saudi alliance.

I post a link to an article below though I suspect that you, like some others, have by now discredited As'ad Abu Khalil, even though he has always railed against Assad (along with most other Arab rulers). And your basis is presumably that he discusses the less savoury opposition elements and hasn't fully sided with the SNC


Forgive me for possibly making too many assumptions.

The Dictator said...

It seems these anti-imperealists like dictators who, even if just vocally, support Palestine. Forget they are dictators of an oppressed people, as long as they support another oppressed people. Their opinions are irrational beyond comprehension, and also completely and utterly insignificant.

We Libyans had those same double standards applied, even before our call for international intervention when our death rate was over 1000 per week. In the end, their bullshit commentary bears no weight on the ground, it doesn't matter one bit to the revolting people. Smile at their idiocy now, and laugh at them when you succeed.

Stranger said...

What's worse still is the disproportion. They condemn Bahrain constantly, and Bahrain of course deserves it, but Syria, whose daily number of deaths often outnumbers the number of the total deaths in Bahrain (and I don't like playing this game of statistics but this just blatantly displays their hypocrisy), does not warrant their outrage.

What's worse is that many in their anti-imperialism are also pro-Iran, they will never speak of Iran's human rights violations either, only lust for any data against Saudi's human rights violations, (September this year Iran had executed 400 people this year, Saudi had executed 44, again zeros are lost to the anti-imperialist crowd). Bahrain in particular, as a point of interest for Iran (which does not diminish the right of self-rule for the people) has also been as a result a special point of interest for the anti-imperialists, while Syria as this blog noted required so special a scrutiny that perhaps no revolution would come off "deserving".

It's not that whatever flaws the opposition has pushed these people away from supporting them, it's that they were stuck in an awkward situation from the very beginning, exposed to the world when their own interests and that of their allegiances (Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran) totally clashed with the Syrian people's and so they delighted in these "flaws" which served more as excuses to not stand with the Syrian people rather than the real reasons and genuine motivations for it.

Hasna said...

I agree with some of the comments of 'Justice seeker'. I think it is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between those who support Assad and those like me who are against any oppressive regime and also against any (military) interference of the west (and Saudi&Israel..). And I don't think Maysaloon has aimed this frustration against people like me (or I hope so). So being 'anti-imperialist' should not have same meaning as 'supporting Arab dictators'.

Anonymous said...

I see that all comment comes from the "Amen" corner. Let me assure all that as a Palestinian in exile, had the uprising in Syria not been the work of Israel and US, I would have wholeheartedly supported it. But there is overwhelming evidence that the majority of Syrians support the regime and that the Arab regimes who support the uprising are so suspect that anything they do is inspired by their masters in the West who in turn act at Israel's behest and for its sole benefit. So do not rush to judge those Arab nationalists who have every right to be suspicious of anything sponsored by the reactionary Arab regimes.

tg said...

It's an unfortunate truth, but the government/military of Syria is also part of the Syrian people.

This is Syrian vs Syrian. Moreover, there is an obvious class and sectarian divide.

There is no way Assad could manage to stay in power this long without having a substantial base of support. In other words, Syrians who look at the opposition and the government and come away supporting the government.

Angry Arab (the person you are clearly directing a lot of criticism towards) has denounced and called for the over throw of the regime. For him to be denounced because he criticizes an element of the opposition which is clearly in the tank of Saudia Arabia demonstrates an unhealthy ability of some in the Syrian opposition to tolerate dissenting opinions.

The shameful spectacle of SNC members attacking other Syrian members of the opposition in Cairo further illustrates this.

Wassim Al-Adel said...

A substantial base of power would not rely on overwhelming military force and the level of brutality that we have been seeing in Syria. As desperate as some allies of Assad have been to portray this as some kind of civil war that was fomented by foreign powers, it is far clearer that this regime has itself manipulated sectarian divisions in order to entrench itself even further. It has also driven many Syrians, especially in Homs, to defend themselves. Far more shameful than SNC members attacking other members of the opposition has been the behaviour of the Syrian security services as they brutalised unarmed demonstrators. Of course that's hardly as shocking for some people who wish to pontificate safely and from a distance.

I do think the SNC is woefully inadequate, incompetent, and unworthy of the Syrian people, but not for an instant will I direct away any of my criticism against this morally bankrupt regime which is solely responsible for the state the country has fallen into. That I despise the Saudi enthusiasm for the Syrian revolution is to me simply a battle for another day.

What frustrates myself and many other Syrians about commentators such as yourself is the obtuse nature of your criticism, which might have been valid before the number of Syrian civilian casualties reached the horrific levels that it has now.

The sad truth is that if it was Israel killing Palestinians at the same rate as the Syrian regime is killing Syrians today, you would be far more vocal and angry.

tg said...

I believe looking at the Iranian revolution in 1979 would better illustrate where Angry Arab is coming from. At the time, the shah was shooting peaceful protesters on the street.

According to AA, he would denounce the shah but at the same time denounce Khomeini, who lets say like the SNC represents the main opposition. Would you fault him for taking such a position because that is more or less what he is saying today.

The regime has pushed the sectarian issue but that issue was there to be pushed. Again, many of the tribes rising up against Assad had sent fighters to battle the shia government in Iraq. And based on the reporting of Nir Rosen, who I have no reason not to trust, there are many who are tieing the alawite community with Assad.

In Israel-Palestine is less complex because there is no major segment of the Palestinian population who are actually living there justifying Israeli action. Pro-Assad Syrians living inside Syria have a say in this.

Voltaire said...

Most people making comments who are still trying to make US/Israel/West the main emphasis for hating, and the real enemies, the greater evil etc. just can't deal with reality. Yes, we all support the Palestinian cause. This is because it's a human cause. But to always preach a duty of war against the Israel and pretend that regimes such those in Syria or Libya are not as bad is childish. The Syrian regime, like all repressive criminal regimes, is JUST AS BAD as the Zionist far right. It is not less bad. It is JUST AS BAD. That's the bottom line here. Some Arab peoples' refusal to accept this reality.

Angela said...

I read with much interest your article, I just don't understand what you mean exactly by saying that nobody supports Syrian rebels but most people keep supporting Assad's regime. Who supports Assad? All I can read here, mostly European media, is in wholehearted support of the revolution, which is what makes me wonder what's the real deal.
I admit, I don't have a great background on Syria. Unfortunately I've never travelled there, so I don't really know how living conditions were and how people felt about the regime, otherwise I would probably be able to form my own opinion.
What I read on mainstream media is support for the revolution, while on less mainstream outlets, a sort of defense of Assad regime. I'm not a big fan of US/West imperialist games, so I don't really advocate fake revolutions promoted just with the aim of overthrowing regimes (what America does best) and replacing them with puppets leaning to favoring banks & Co., but even less I like butchering people, and this is the worst thing Assad police could have done, and Assad himself could have allowed.
I see you are Syrian, so it would probably be helpful if you could write something about life there before the revolution and give your readers a bigger picture.

Maysaloon said...

Dear Angela,
Thanks for your comments, and you are correct in saying that the mainstream Western media has been quite supportive of the Syrian revolution. But my post was mainly against those in the Arab world who subscribe to a narrative of "resistance" and anti-imperialism, but who have seemed far less concerned about such things if it is not an American or Israeli who is doing so. In essence, I am saying that it is wrong to take sides when a people are facing repression. You will notice if you look at the Tags section of my blog that there is an entire section on Syria that will be interesting for you if you wish to get the bigger picture of life in Syria or my views as a Syrian. Hope that helps.