Monday, July 4, 2022
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Monday, July 4, 2022

Opinion | Just like Ukrainians, Syrians are also victims of Putin

The eyes of the world are riveted on the events unfolding in Ukraine right now and it seems as if they are discovering Putin’s criminality for the first time. Did he not show his true face in Chechnya when he turned Grozny into a wasteland, or reveal his sick ambitions and the story of his global criminality when he manufactured a reason to invade Georgia, or when he forcibly annexed the Crimean Peninsula, or when he suffocated the voice of freedom in Kazakhstan? Even if the world could not see him for the criminal he is after all of that, his agenda was made perfectly clear in 2015 by his protection of a tyrannical regime that committed war crimes against its own people and when he contributed to the killing and displacement of Syrians and the destruction of their lives. 

There is no doubt that the Russian invasion of Syria was not in order to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Rather, it was identical to the approach of the authoritarian Assad regime when it decided to confront the uprising of the Syrian people with iron and fire and its implementation of the slogan “Either We Rule It, Or We Destroy It.” Had this intervention truly been for the purpose of finding a political solution it would not have been welcomed by Assad in the first place so it wouldn’t even have occurred. 

When the necessity for international intervention became apparent in the second year of the conflict due to the escalation of the Syrian crisis and the rise in the level of blood, destruction and crime generated by the brutality of the Assad regime, the Security Council acted to create the Geneva Declaration. When that eluded implementation, UN Resolution 2254 was created which was a looser version of the original declaration. To date, nothing done by the Security Council has relieved any of the suffering of the people of Syria.

The revolution of the great Syrian people now enters its twelfth year and remains steadfast in spite of what no human being has ever experienced in terms of tyranny, corruption, arrests, killing, displacement and occupation. To add insult to injury, all these horrors have been accompanied by the betrayal of this world which is now mobilized to save Ukraine from those who trained its killers and its war machine on the souls and the land of the Syrian people and whoever furthered Putin’s cause by deceiving the world into believing that he wanted a political solution. 

The moment has come for preparing the ground to create a Syrian awakening through a refusal by the Syrian Negotiating Committee to once again engage with Moscow in the never-ending political process of the “step-by-step” approach of the international UN envoy. The Syrian public has grown weary of this suspicious game and have called for a rejection of Pedersen’s call for a seventh round of absurd meetings in Geneva that would serve no purpose other than to reassure the tyrant and the occupier that their continuing assault on the people of Syria is secure.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the exposure of Putin’s criminality, the global blockade of Russia, and the political contradiction that Putin fell into when he protected the Assad regime’s tyranny under the banner of preserving the unity, independence and sovereignty of states and not allowing their regimes to be changed by force, and then doing exactly what he had forbidden others to do in Syria with his invasion of Ukraine, Syrians have a rare opportunity to take advantage of this global consensus to cut off the extensions and brutality of Putin’s arms and call for justice for Syrians and their cause in order to restore their lives and their country – free, sovereign and independent.

The first thing that can be done is to prepare for a popular resistance to the occupation and its authoritarian Assadist tool and call for a session of the United Nations General Assembly – similar to the Ukraine session – taking advantage of the international principle of “Uniting for Peace” to issue a binding resolution that would rid Syria of tyranny and occupation.

Syrians must make it clear to the world that they were, and still are, the long-suffering victims of Putin’s crimes. Let this world know that when Syrians were deprived of the tools to defend themselves in the face of tyranny and occupation, that negligence only served to increase Putin’s appetite for tyranny and paved the way for him to turn towards Europe, and perhaps not stop at Ukraine. The hordes of mercenaries are knocking on the doors of this world which has been silent for a decade on the incursion of dictatorship and tyranny in the lives of Syrians. Will it finally wake up to reality now?

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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