Quote of the day

Let us pause here in front of this state of [Assad’s] mad dictatorship, and compare it with what Israel has committed against us [i.e. the Arabs] in recent times […] particularly the Lebanon and Gaza wars. The entire world rushes to stop Israel’s aggressions against Lebanon in 2006, and this war ended after approximately two months, claiming the lives of 1,200 Lebanese. The same thing applies to the Gaza war, which had approximately the same death toll. In both wars, the public opinion in the Arab world rushed to take action, whilst counterfeit “friends of Israel” lists were issued, masterminded by the al-Assad regime; indeed a number of Arab politicians attempted to exploit this tragedy, most prominently the al-Assad regime. However we did not hear anybody ask – even now – why did these wars happen? Whose interests did these wars, and more, serve? Who was responsible for this?

Today, in the case of al-Assad, we have seen the Syrian forces brutally killing their own people on our television screens over the past year – not two months – whilst the death toll stands at more than 8,000 and the tyrant of Damascus’s troops have destroyed mosques, tortured and assassinated children, as well as women and the elderly, simply in order to allow al-Assad to cling to power. Despite all this, we find some countries, politicians, media organizations and figures, who are procrastinating; it is as if we – as Arabs – are saying that if the killer is also an Arab, then this is something that we can accept, however if he is an Israeli, then we must all move as one to put an end to this! This is a saddening and shameful state of affairs, particularly when somebody like Hassan Nasrallah shamelessly comes out to defend al-Assad!

Tariq Alhomayed, Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, in a widely noted op-ed with the provocative title “Let us compare al-Assad to Israel.”  But as nice as it may be to read Alhomayed’s  condemnation of “the growing hypocrisy in our region” and “the lie of the resistance,” it is worth keeping in mind that Asharq Al-Awsat is a Saudi paper owned by a member of the Saudi royal family. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Alhomayed is doubtless bright enough to have known everything he wrote in this op-ed already years ago; yet, his paper used to feature regular columns by Assad’s media advisor Bouthaina Shaaban until last spring.  By fall of last year she was called by one of her former fellow-columnists what she always had been: “the ‘make-up artist’, or the embellisher of the Syrian regime’s ugly face.”

One response to “Quote of the day

  1. I am reminded of an article by Bernard Lewis which speaks of the double standards by which Arabs are judged vs how Westerners are judged. I dug up the article ( http://humanities.psydeshow.org/political/lewis.htm ) – or, at least one of the articles – where he makes a similar point. He writes:

    There is some justice in one charge that is frequently levelled against the United States: Middle Easterners increasingly complain that the United States judges them by different and lower standards than it does Europeans and Americans, both in what is expected of them and in what they may expect—in terms of their financial well-being and their political freedom. They assert that Western spokesmen repeatedly overlook or even defend actions and support rulers that they would not tolerate in their own countries. As many Middle Easterners see it, the Western and American governments’ basic position is: “We don’t care what you do to your own people at home, so long as you are coöperative in meeting our needs and protecting our interests.”

    The most dramatic example of this form of racial and cultural arrogance was what Iraqis and others see as the betrayal of 1991, when the United States called on the Iraqi people to revolt against Saddam Hussein. The rebels of northern and southern Iraq did so, and the United States forces watched while Saddam, using the helicopters that the ceasefire agreement had allowed him to retain, bloodily suppressed them, group by group. The reasoning behind this action—or, rather, inaction—is not difficult to see. Certainly, the victorious Gulf War coalition wanted a change of government in Iraq, but they had hoped for a coup d’état, not a revolution. They saw a genuine popular uprising as dangerous—it could lead to uncertainty or even anarchy in the region. A coup would be more predictable and could achieve the desired result—the replacement of Saddam Hussein by another, more amenable tyrant, who could take his place among America’s so-called allies in the coalition. The United States’ abandonment of Afghanistan after the departure of the Soviets was understood in much the same way as its abandonment of the Iraqi rebels.

    Another example of this double standard occurred in the Syrian city of Hama and in refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila. The troubles in Hama began with an uprising headed by the radical group the Muslim Brothers in 1982. The government responded swiftly. Troops were sent, supported by armor, artillery, and aircraft, and within a very short time they had reduced a large part of the city to rubble. The number killed was estimated, by Amnesty International, at somewhere between ten thousand and twenty-five thousand. The action, which was ordered and supervised by the Syrian President, Hafiz al-Assad, attracted little attention at the time, and did not prevent the United States from subsequently courting Assad, who received a long succession of visits from American Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright, and even from President Clinton. It is hardly likely that Americans would have been so eager to propitiate a ruler who had perpetrated such crimes on Western soil, with Western victims.

    The massacre of seven hundred to eight hundred Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila that same year was carried out by Lebanese militiamen, led by a Lebanese commander who subsequently became a minister in the Syrian-sponsored Lebanese government, and it was seen as a reprisal for the assassination of the Lebanese President Bashir Gemayyel. Ariel Sharon, who at the time commanded the Israeli forces in Lebanon, was reprimanded by an Israeli commission of inquiry for not having foreseen and prevented the massacre, and was forced to resign from his position as Minister of Defense. It is understandable that the Palestinians and other Arabs should lay sole blame for the massacre on Sharon. What is puzzling is that Europeans and Americans should do the same. Some even wanted to try Sharon for crimes against humanity before a tribunal in Europe. No such suggestion was made regarding either Saddam Hussein or Hafiz al-Assad, who slaughtered tens of thousands of their compatriots. It is easy to understand the bitterness of those who see the implication here. It was as if the militia who had carried out the deed were animals, not accountable by the same human standards as the Israelis.</BLOCKQUOTE.

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