Sunday, November 30, 2014

rom Barcelona to Berlin to Donetsk to Damascus

Note:  this blog was published on OpedNews on November 9th, and for some reason was not posted here at the time:

As the Catalans defy the central Spanish government to vote on a non-binding resolution to become an independent country, Germany continues to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall that enabled the two Germanies to be reunited, while shelling continues against the largely Russian-speaking population of Eastern Ukraine that recently voted itself independent from Kiev, and Syria and Iraq lose large swathes of terriroty to Islamist militants. 

At the same time as these violent events, twenty-five years after German reunification, there is a growing call among political activists for smaller political entities where it is hoped democracy can be more participatory.But you’d never know that from watching Fareed Zakaria’s GPS.

Today’s guests, Brent Snowcroft and the British Charles Powell, an advisor to Prime Minister Thatcher at the time, gave an extraordinary accounting of the most earth-shattering event of the last century, which they claim took Washington and London completely by surprise, to which they responded  by “trading carefully carefully in order not to destroy the hopeful signs it represented”.  These two high ranking officials are still pretending that Gorbachev didn’t give the OK to the East German govenment to dismantle the wall, essentially withdrawing its decades-long support for the most draconian of all the Eastern European regimes - or that the opening of the Hungarian border with Austria over the summer, through which thousands of vacationing East Germans fled to the West, did not portend the end of the Eastern European regimes! The British guest even pretended that it took Chancellor Kohl unawares (but if Kohl did say that, it could only have been in order to prevent the West from trying to interfere….).

In his last segment, Zakaria invited Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a recognized authority on Syria, to present his Syrian ‘solution’ complete with a multi-colored map of Syria and Iraq.  According to Landis, neither ISIS nor Al Qaeda can be defeated, so the best solution is to leave Assad in power in the southern part of the country, which he controls, and which includes 65% of the population, (the Northeastern part of the country, together with Northwestern Iraq that ISIS conquered, being mainly desert).  Landis suggests that ISIS be left in control of this Sunni territory, which it calls the Islamic State of Al-Shams, the goal of the West being over time to put in a better leadership.

Here is the way OEN’s contact in Syria - a Sunni, by the way, characterizes the Assad regime:

“What about the notion of getting along in a secular society, with equality under the law, and freedom of religion? Syria was the only secular nation in the Middle East. The Ba’ath party created the secular Syrian state from 1970’s onwards.

Many political analysts say Syria was attacked and destroyed for the following reasons:

1. It was the only secular nation in Middle East.

2. It had a national policy of RESISTANCE to the occupation of Palestine, and is the only country other than Palestine to demand the end of the Israeli occupation (all other Arab countries deal with Israel openly and have no demands on the end of occupation).

3. Syria was discovered to have the largest natural gas field on earth, offshore, in June 2010. By March 2011 the attack and destroy plan began.

The goal of the Syrian Opposition: (Syrian National Coalition and Free Syrian Army) is:

1. To remove the current government of Syria.

2. To create a SUNNI only form of goverment under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are the founders and supporters of the SNC and FSA. (The same ideology in control of Turkey).

3. To create a Sunni only enclave in Syria, which will drop all claims to the occupied lands, as well as the state of war with Israel, and begin a full relationship with Israel, never demanding the rights of Palestinians.

When you travel to most Arab countries, you never hear or perceive Anti-Israeli sentiments. The population has been taught to love Israel in order to get along, the Palestinians are a sad story, but not ‘our’ story, so they are left to hang-out-to-dry. I have never found any Arab country that puts the plight of Palestine before everything. You would think that Jordan should, since they are 98% Palestinian in ethnicity. But Jordan never takes a firm stand on Palestinian rights. Maybe they think it’s a hopeless fight. I can understand that feeling of defeat, but it is immoral, unethical and goes against all humanity to allow the only occupation on earth of over 5 million souls, and never raise the issue.

I am very proud of Syria’s commitment to RESISTANCE. Medea Benjamin’s Code Pink 4 Peace motto: “Occupation is Indefensible”, says it all.”

Just as the Sunni/Shi’a divide is never referred to as being as much ideological as religious, with the historically down-trodden Shi’a representing the left (think Iranian revolution), Syria under the Shi’a Alawite sect and the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party, is never acknowledged in the West as the only secular, left-oriented Arab state. 

Fareed’s third guest was the author of a book on the public’s lack of political knowledg in various countries, with the US coming in second only to Italy in terms of ignorance, but he referred to that ignorance only in terms of national policies.  If knowledge of foreign countries was not even part of such a survey, it’s no wonder Western talking heads are so far off the mark.

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