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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Opinion | As it is a moral compass, I will continue to write about Syria

As we approach the 11th anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring, which was triggered by the self-immolation of the late Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, it has become important to reiterate and remind those who have forgotten or are trying to forget that it was not the result of a momentary burst of adrenaline, but it is an accumulation of oppression and injustice that has reached its limits.

Sketch depicting an Assad Regime attack against civilians in Ein Terma in Eastern Ghouta, Syria; Credit: Marc Nelson

Let’s take Syria as an example. Before 2011, some in the western world liked to look at it as a safe and economically stable country with a young president living a warm emotional life with his educated and elegant wife. But behind this cover of misinformation, there were a series pf large-scale tragedies, such as the massacre of Hama and Jisr al-Shughour in the 1980s, the Palmyra and Sednaya prison slaughterhouses that are much worse than Guantanamo, and the oppressive campaign of Qamishli in 2004, to cite just few examples.

The Assad regime’s criminality was not limited to the Syrian geography and its people but expanded further by playing a dirty role in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 and in Lebanon with countless crimes, one of which was the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

In response to the efforts of some in the East, the West and among the Arabs to normalize relations with this regime, I find it necessary to remind those whose compass has begun to diverge regarding the importance of the Syrian file geopolitically, economically and morally. On this basis, I will present from my own point of view and say why I, Eva Koulouriotis, will continue to write about Syria.

Geopolitics

It is important to emphasise that the current geographically fragmented situation in Syria in the light of the multipolar distribution of influence does not negate its importance as a sensitive location and its impact on the geopolitics of the region as a whole.

Russia has built to this day more than 50 military bases, in addition to its largest base on the Mediterranean coast in the port of Tartus and the Khmeimim air base which has a huge strategic significance in the face of any escalation with NATO.

On the other hand, Washington continues to insist on staying in eastern Syria despite the cost and risk in light of the growing level of threats from Iran-linked militias, which have recently begun to translate into attacks on the Al-Omar oil field and on a joint base with Britain at Al-Tanf. This American insistence confirms the importance of Syrian geography in building advanced locations to address any probabilities in the region.

As for regional players, both Iran and Turkey have established a solid military presence despite heavy pressure on them to withdraw. Iran, which according to Israeli officials, has received more than a thousand Israeli attacks inside the Syrian territory, but still maintains enormous military influence with approximately two hundred military bases and tens of thousands of mercenaries deployed on various fronts in support of Assad and the preservation of the Tehran-Beirut road, which is important for its regional project whose backbone is Syria. In turn, Turkey clashed directly with Russia, Iran and Assad in January 2020 to prevent the advance of its army in northern Syria, in order to confirm its presence there due to its importance for its national security.

These countries have provided and continue to provide a huge amount of their budgets, in addition to human losses, in order to remain a player on the Syrian scene, which confirms that Syria is important for regional and international geopolitics.

Security and society

Watching the Iraqi scene after the US invasion and the overthrow of the Ba’athist regime there, I can say that the state of instability mixed with injustice and the bad economic situation will naturally cause a lot of anger, which translates into various forms including the emergence of extremist groups, such as ISIS.

In those cold, damp camps with torn tents, empty stomachs in eastern Syria that TV cameras do not reach, where the al-Hol camp is located, or in those forgotten camps in Rukban, where snakes and scorpions are closer than a water well, or the camps of northern Syria where millions gather in a cramped space with no glimmer of hope, lacking education, basic health care, or adequate nutritional support, children grow up without dreams. How do we expect them to look at us when we have left them alone in the face of all this injustice and death? Surely, anger and hatred will pave the way for any extremist ideology in the region where a huge percentage of the secret agents pretend to be advocates of extremism, as Abu al-Qaqaa al-Halabi is just one representative example of this reality. Therefore, if you want security for the region and the world as a whole, Syria must be a top priority.

Morality

Eleven years ago, Syria had a population of about 23 million people. Today, some 13,300,000 of them have sought asylum or moved away from the control of the Assad regime and its allies. These figures show that at least 58% of the Syrian people do not want Assad, so under any democratic rule, Assad would have fallen.

Is this enough to confirm the eligibility of the demands of this revolution for the overthrow of this fascist regime? If you do not think so, let me present you some more facts. Since the beginning of the revolution, the Assad regime has arrested more than 1,200,000 Syrian citizens. Most of them, if not all, have been subjected to physical torture and only a small number of them managed to survive and come out alive, while the helicopters of this regime dropped more than one hundred-thousand barrel bombs on the cities and villages of Syria. These types of bombs are known to be inaccurate, unguided, and primitive, as they kill indiscriminately. According to statistics, these barrels have actually killed more than 100,000 people, most of them civilians.

Whoever supports Assad, be it only in words, after all that happened and is still happening in Syria, will bear the brunt of his crimes.

This criminal regime has used weapons, including chemical ones, against its people and bombed them with warplanes, artillery, mortars and even Scud ballistic missiles under the pretext of fighting terrorism. ISIS terrorism constitute 1% of the terrorism of this butcher named Assad and his allies.

The Syrian issue has become a moral issue. Whoever supports Assad, be it only in words, after all that happened and is still happening in Syria, will bear the brunt of his crimes.

The reaction of the reader may not be the same as that of an individual present in an event or being the event himself when emotions shake one’s body. In this case, the details will have different meanings. In the light of the evolution of the world of information and the search for what is called impartiality, this dry concept is mixed with the vision of the media, their interests, and their supporters. In many cases, the event is presented more as a table of numbers so the reader who is away from it is not particularly affected by its aspects and the devastation it causes to families and orphaned children.

In the Syrian scene, this drought is more clearly seen under the title of neutrality. The Syrian revolution has become a useless burden for many political players, with some heading for normalisation with the Assad regime in Damascus. The Arab and Western media were influenced by this trend, so the wound of Syria was put on the shelf. Rejecting this fact, I want my first article in SYRIAWISE to be a reminder that in Syria the crime continues, blood is being shed, and the criminals are still free.

Long live Syria, down with Assad.

Eva J. Koulouriotis
Eva J. Koulouriotis
Eva J. Koulouriotis is a political analyst specialising in the Middle East. She is a regular columnist and commentator on various international and Greek outlets such as Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Al-Sharq Qatar, Annahar, Orient News, Arab News, Huffington Post Greece, the Greek weekly Paraskinio, RT, among others.

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