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Abdulrahman Elshayyal

Syria and the left's 'Support the War' campaign

The Assad regime has unleashed the most disturbing physical and psychological torture on its people[Getty]

Date of publication: 14 October, 2016

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In waxing lyrical about the Syrian revolution, the Labour Party and leftists in the West have stabbed Syrians in the back and exposed their own hypocrisy, writes Abdulrahman Elshayyal.
It seems that the left will not budge, no matter what Bashar al-Assad's vicious regime does to the hapless Syrians.

The Assad regime has, in a sadistically methodic manner, unleashed the most disturbing physical and psychological torture on its people from the moment they set out to call for peaceful change in their country.

We need to remind ourselves of regime crimes committed since a wall in the village of Daraa first bore the slogan "[the] people want the regime's fall" - and Syrians took to streets up and down the country chanting silmiya, silmiya ["peaceful, peaceful"].

We need to remind ourselves because those who purport to stand with the people are doing nothing of the sort - and a perversely arrogant media narrative has emerged, looking for a non-existent objectivity in the blood-soaked story of the Syrian fight for freedom.

Deadly thugs, referred to as Shabiha ["apparitions"] were unleashed on innocent civilians, kidnapping people from their homes and dumping their corpses during the night in town squares for people to wake up to.
The Assad regime has, in a sadistically methodic manner, unleashed the most disturbing physical and psychological torture on its people from the moment they set out to call for peaceful change in their country

Organised by the regime, their role was to terrorise civilians into submission. Protest organisers were singled out, tortured and dismembered. Music, influential in any political activism, was also targeted and revolutionary singers were kidnapped and murdered. A fireman-turned-revolutionary singer was found in the Orontes river with his throat ripped out. 

This would put most people off any further demonstrations, yet the will of the Syrian people startled the regime. Further demonstrations were held during the day and at night, with hundreds gathering to sing and chant, shoulder to shoulder in the hope that the regime would desist.

This determination to see past their differences - as Syrians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds called for change - caused the regime to facilitate the entrance and rise of Islamic extremists in the revolution.

This determination to see past their differences (Syrians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds called for change) caused the regime to facilitate the entrance and rise of Islamic extremists in the revolution

It was only months before honourable soldiers and officers defected from the Syrian army to stand alongside their brothers and sisters, forcing the hand of the regime to facilitate the rise of maniacal Islamic extremists while simultaneously ramping up its barbaric assault on its people.

Regime allies Hizballah and Iran entered the fray, sending soldiers to fight against the Syrian opposition under the guise of fighting extremists.

And as marauding militias orphaned children, barrel bombs flattened schools and hospitals, Russia formally entered the war, giving the regime devastatingly greater destructive capabilities both to its arsenal and in the further torturing of its people.

As marauding militias orphaned children, barrel bombs flattened schools and hospitals, Russia, formally entered the war giving the regime devastatingly greater destructive capabilities to both its arsenal and in the further torturing of its people

The regime also used an evil psychological campaign to demoralise people yet further, announcing competitions, book fairs, bodybuilding contests and more in Damascus and other areas it still controlled.

It also relied heavily on friendly media outlets as well as the shocking naivety of an organisation like BBC Arabic whose Damascus reporter is a pro-regime journalist with reported ties to the intelligence services. 

All the while, the left obstinately oscillated between two points in a morally repugnant argument - that Assad was standing in the face of Western Imperialism; any move by Western governments such as the enforcement of a no-fly zone would simply prove that Western Imperialism is what he is fighting. Or that the conflict isn't so straightforward - "it's complicated".

But both facetious viewpoints are insulting to the men, women and children whose blood has watered the soil of their country.

Britain's Labour Party and the Stop the War coalition, two organisations that actively claim to be on the side of the people and have reasonable records on the Palestinian cause, turned a blind eye to the Syria conflict.

In the last Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn saw it appropriate to commit to a line about not selling weapons to Saudi Arabia - and not even mention Syria. The people of Syria, it seems, do not have friends in the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn saw it appropriate to commit to a line about not selling weapons to Saudi Arabia - and not even mention Syria. The people of Syria, it seems, do not have friends in the Labour Party

The Syrians rose up of their own accord to bring down a regime that has tortured them for generations, only to find themselves up against Iranians, Russians and foreign militias.

Those who have been lucky enough to survive have become displaced within their own country or hapless refugees seeking homes around the world, providing heart-wrenching content for voyeuristic news agencies.

Enforcing a no-fly zone is simply the least that can be done to mitigate any further loss of life. The crushing bombing campaign against Aleppo and the endless sorties point to the genocidal nature of the regime.

The comments by Boris Johnson are difficult to fault. People in London should be protesting outside the Russian Embassy.

The Russians are complicit in the murder of Syrians and their contempt for life is evident in the flippant remarks by their various spokesmen.

Syrians are not thinking about imperialism. They are running from bombs and hiding underground

Admittedly, it might have been a statement that had partisan undertones. But, in waxing lyrical about the Syrian revolution, the Labour Party and leftists in the West have stabbed Syrians in the back and exposed their own hypocrisy.

Syrians are not thinking about imperialism. They are running from bombs and hiding underground.

The left needs to stand with Syrians and against the Assad war machine. If indeed, as Nineham said, the Stop the War coalition is just that and not the Start the War coalition, then a no-fly zone should be the first thing it calls for. Otherwise, Support the War coalition might be a more apt name for it.

Follow Abdu ElShayyal on Twitter: @AbduLondon

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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