Friday, June 14, 2024
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Friday, June 14, 2024

Arabs normalizing relations with Assad: Narratives vs. reality

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As if the Syrian people have not suffered enough under the siege imposed upon them by the Assad regime and its allies for more than 12 years, 2023 has subjected them to a series of catastrophic natural as well as unnatural disasters. Following the earthquake that occurred on February 6, a succession of “mini earthquakes” and aftershocks provoked by human and semi-human entities served to tighten the noose on the Syrian issue increasing the suffering of Syrians and prolonging the misery of their plight with talk of “normalization” with the Assad regime.

talk of normalization with the government in Syria has been used as a political tool in Turkey, but no matter how attractive that may be to some parties, most notably the Assad regime, the complexities surrounding it make it near impossible

Dr. Yahya Alaridi

The earthquake was an unexpected natural disaster but Syrians affected by it accepted it as destiny as they are typically inclined to do. But some of the manmade “earthquakes” that followed in its wake generated bitter disappointment, especially since the justifications, excuses, and reasons given for them are flimsy and possibly even malicious and harmful in nature. Could it be that the initiators of these “normalization” efforts do not realize that doing so might harm them even more than the Syrian people who justifiably feel they have nothing left to lose?

Recently talk of normalization with the government in Syria has been used as a political tool in Turkey, but no matter how attractive that may be to some parties, most notably the Assad regime, the complexities surrounding it make it near impossible due to the contradiction of interests and intentions of those involved. And as tempting as it may be to some to recycle the tyrannical Assad regime, it would be impossible to achieve, especially when Erdogan’s expected victory in the upcoming elections would put an end to this rapprochement and most likely see an increase in the hostility between him and Assad.

The most dangerous in the storms of normalization are the steps being taken by Arab countries to which the proverb “The injustice of kin is the hardest…” is applicable. Recently Syrians have seen visits and cheerful receptions for Assad by those who had once demanded his removal. They witnessed those who said “We will remove him by force or otherwise” now aligning themselves with the Iranian occupier who has been obsessed with protecting Assad and his regime. All this came in an attempt to rehabilitate a Captagonian criminal regime as if nothing had happened in devastated Syria!

Suddenly it seems that everyone’s obsession has become saving Syria and its people, but Syrians can only wish for that to be true! It is only fair to inform our people and the world as to the real motives behind these suspicious normalization impulses

Dr. Yahya Alaridi

The justifications, pretexts, and excuses of the normalizing parties have varied narratives colored to fit their so-called “political realism” but no matter what color they paint it, the truth does not fall into any of their narratives.

Suddenly it seems that everyone’s obsession has become saving Syria and its people, but Syrians can only wish for that to be true! It is only fair to inform our people and the world as to the real motives behind these suspicious normalization impulses and expose them to the people of the countries intending to normalize with this brutal Assad regime in the hope of opening their eyes to the dangers involved in doing so.

One of the prevailing narratives that has some international appeal (especially to America and Israel), involves removing Iran from Syria. Some invoked America’s neglect of the Syrian file, which caused its stagnation, as the US sufficed itself with sanctions that have only hurt the Syrian people, not the Assad regime. Then there are those who sensed the turn of the American back to the region, that the Syrian file has been frozen and attention is no longer being given to the Syrian tragedy.

When normalizers say that the “regime” is a fait accompli, doesn’t it mean surrendering to all the crimes it has committed, accepting its dissemination of drugs, emptying Syria of its people, and mortgaging it to the occupation?

Dr. Yahya Alaridi

But the most pervasive narrative, which resonates with the mind, is that major powers do not want change. They want to convince us that “the regime” is a reality, that there is no alternative, and that the opposition is fragmented and worn out. It is well known that half of the truth is more dangerous than the absence of truth. In this narrative, we are presented with half of the truth.

Who says Russia doesn’t want change? Russia wants change, specifically changing the facts of what happened in Syria; hence it pushes for normalization with the Assad regime as if nothing happened!

America also wants change, at least “regime behavior change” for which it imposes sanctions. When normalizers say that the “regime” is a fait accompli, doesn’t it mean surrendering to all the crimes it has committed, accepting its dissemination of drugs, emptying Syria of its people, and mortgaging it to the occupation? If the opposition is the problem, and there is no alternative to Assad, can the Syrian people be demeaned and humiliated to such a degree that they are reduced to living with the crippling effects of the likes of Assad and the opposition?

In the search for the real reasons for the suspicious steps of normalization we have witnessed, Syrians go beyond the current narratives to the oft-repeated argument that, in reality, the normalizers want what happened to Syrians to be a lesson for their people in places where ruling authorities remain glued to their chairs and are repeatedly rehabilitated no matter what heinous crimes they commit.

In this context, a number of sensitive questions arise in the minds of Syrians: Are the normalizers really thinking they are capable of snatching the Assad regime from the Iranian bosom?  Have they been unable to actually contribute to its removal so they’ve decided to deal with it as it is? Or do they actually admire the brutal regime and its “miraculous” strength and continuity?

In their answers to these questions, Syrians say: Let them recognize that instead of pulling the regime from the Iranian lap, they are being pulled into it. If the normalizers have reached the point of despair, believing that this “regime” is protected by Israel and America, they may be right. But this criminal regime will never be anything more than a tool whose effectiveness and validity have ended by virtue of its accumulated crimes that are difficult to erase; and by virtue of the fact that America itself issued the laws that criminalized it with the Caesar and Captagon Acts.

Even the areas of Syria supposedly under regime control are in reality effectively and absolutely under the control and administration of Russia and Iran. Even the country’s potential resources are not in Assad’s hands but in the hands of the Russians and the Iranians.  

Dr. Yahya Alaridi

As for the strength or weakness of the regime, they should know that this “regime” is fragile and even weaker than can be imagined; it lives on the profits of an illicit drug trade (Captagon) and the selling of Syria’s resources. Even the areas of Syria supposedly under regime control are in reality effectively and absolutely under the control and administration of Russia and Iran. Even the country’s potential resources are not in Assad’s hands but in the hands of the Russians and the Iranians.  

Let those who wish to normalize also remember that they are dealing with a murderous regime against which Syrians carry hundreds of thousands of incriminating documents while waiting for justice to be activated.

Finally, let Syrians remind the normalizers that the Syrian issue is no longer only an Arab or regional issue, but an international one. The regime’s floatation can only be accomplished by way of an international decision and if Russia is the main dynamo and sponsor of the normalization process, it will inevitably fail. Putin’s autocratic agenda has never been world friendly and there are those who are loathe to see him achieve any real political gains that would make him more powerful – especially the USA. Hence, the arms grasping at normalization will simply rotate in a vacuum.

Syria’s membership in the League of Arab States was initially suspended in 2011 after Assad launched a brutal campaign of repression targeting unarmed Syrian civilians calling for freedom and the overthrow of the regime.

Ironically the reasons that led the Arab League to freeze Syria’s membership in the first place are still valid and have even increased, specifically the issue of chemical weapons, the deteriorating economic situation, the continuous criminal practices

Dr. Yahya Alaridi

Assad’s readmission into the Arab League is viewed as a real betrayal by hundreds of thousands of his victims. All free Syrians and human rights activists worldwide are devastated after hearing of the decision to allow Assad to rejoin the Arab League.

Ironically the reasons that led the Arab League to freeze Syria’s membership in the first place are still valid and have even increased, specifically the issue of chemical weapons, the deteriorating economic situation, the continuous criminal practices, the regime’s obstinacy, and its failure to engage in the political process. Despite all of these issues, the regime is being rewarded by returning to the Arab League seat. It is not Syria that is returning, but rather this authoritarian system.

Yahya Alaridi
Yahya Alaridi
PhD in Media and Linguistics, George Town University, USA; Former Dean of the College of Media, Damascus University; Former Director of Channel Two (broadcasting in English), Syrian TV.

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