I wanted to make a post to answer those who claim that the continuation of the Syrian regime, and indeed the grip of power that President Bashar Al-Assad currently has is good for resistance, and good for the freedom of the Palestinian people. I feel that as a Palestinian I need to counter these claims.
In order to be objective, let me list the things the Syrian regime has done in support of Palestine. Bear in mind, these are the things that die-hard Assad fans and sections of the far Left use continuously in arguments, to suggest that the regime is somehow without fault, and should remain untouched:
- The Assad regime provided political support for Palestinian resistance groups such as Hamas.
- The conditions that Palestinian refugees live in inside Syrian camps are better than that of refugees inside Lebanon, for example.
If I were to merely focus on this aspect of the Assad regime- (being the greatest force of resistance of all time)- then this level of resistance is pathetic. If the regime was indeed the only hope for Palestine, then let me tell you the occupation would undoubtedly go on for another thousand years. Here is exactly how great the Syrian regime has been for Palestine and Palestinians:
- The Golan Heights remains occupied by Israel.
- The regime has remained silent about the building of settlements, and indeed the transfer of settlers to the Occupied Golan Heights.
- The Assad regime has enforced a ban on the smuggling of weapons into Occupied Golan, thus creating a barrier to resistance against Israel.
- The regime actively supported the Lebanese Amal movement’s siege of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in the mid 1980’s.
- Tel al-Zaatar massacre in 1976. Up to 3000 Palestinian refugees in the refugee camp in Beirut were killed with the help of the Syrian army.
- Palestinians living in Syria face the same threat that Syrians face when speaking out against the government – this was shown in the case of Salameh Kaileh, a Palestinian Marxist intellectual that has suffered for years in Assad’s prisons, (which he describes as “slaughterhouses.”)
- Palestinians have been killed in Assad’s ongoing onslaught- (14 were killed in June 2011 in Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, for example).
Palestinians and ‘anti-imperialist’ leftists who still support Assad are still stuck in the pre-Arab awakening mentality. Before Bouazizi lit himself, the Arab world could be split (geopolitically speaking) into two camps: The pro-Western moderate camp and the pro-resistance camp. The moderate camp included Saudi Arabia (yes, really), Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia etc. The pro-resistance camp included Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. This arrangement was shattered after the Arab spring as these revolutions targeted regimes with little regard to their foreign policy so for the most part, it did not matter that Assad was a part of this pro-resistance camp. Leftists (and Iran) have claimed that the revolutions that swept the Arab world were targeted at Western-backed states, this claim proved erroneous once the revolutions spread to Syria. Because of this, these people need to get out of this mindset, and if they really cared about Palestine and support for the resistance, then they must realise that if the Syrian people were given a chance they would support Palestine with all their heart. A strong independent Syria will be good for Palestinians.
Regardless of what the regime’s stance on Palestine is, this does not, and will never justify their heinous crimes against Syrians. To suggest, or even insinuate that Syrians should not attempt to overthrow the current government because of geopolitics, is the greatest insult. Syrians deserve freedom, they deserve to live in a country where freedom of speech, and freedom of expression is welcomed. They deserve to live in a country where civil rights are respected, and democratic reforms do not come in the form of shelling, murdering, raping, and demolishing.
Over 15,000 Syrians have been massacred. 100s of 1000’s have been injured. Over 65,000 are missing. Over 50,000 have been made refugees, and over 200,000 have been imprisoned since the beginning of the revolution in March 2011. Can you claim, without hesitating, that all of this is OK because of lip-service to the Palestinian cause and towards resistance in general?
Freedom for Palestine will be attainable once every brutal and corrupt government in the Middle East is overthrown. It was these corrupt regimes that guarded Israel all these years. Thus by standing against the revolution in Syria, the revolution which was started by the people, not the US, not Qatar, not Saudi Arabia… you are standing in the way of liberating Palestine. The longer Assad remains in power, and the longer he mercilessly butchers his people, the easier it is becoming for Israel to implement their Zionist agenda.
As a Palestinian I want Syria to know that: we are with you in your dignified revolution, and the death of your martyrs will not be in vain. From Palestine to Syria: صامدون صامدون صامدون