Monday, 31 August 2015
Why Americans must change the conversation about Syria
'Syrians know that the US is not at war with Syria just by looking up at the sky, which is filled with a criss-cross of Assad régime aircraft and US-led coalition aircraft that never skirmish. They see US support of the opposition forces as consistently inadequate, and indicative of a "bleeding out" policy. When Americans position the US as a primary aggressor in the Syrian conflict, and frame the coversation exclusively within the logic of US imperialism and the War on Terror, they're proliferating a narrative that doesn't apply to the Syrian civilian. This framing is dangerous, erasing the Syrian context by homogenizing its conflict with the illegal US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. This leaves little room to consider the anti-dictatorship movement that gave rise to the conflict. To understand the structures of violence operating in Syria today, the conversation should place the Syrian civil society activist at its center and map out culpable parties based on their responsibility to safeguard the inherent dignity of the civilian. This “civilian-centered approach” immediately places the Syrian regime as the primary actor culpable in creating and perpetuating violence within the state. All other actors, therefore, commit violence in Syria in relation to the Syrian regime. The goal of the Syrian régime wasn't to wholeheartedly brainwash citizens, but rather to coerce them into behaving as if they believed in the régime, making them aware of their submission through regurgitated illusions. No international state has directly challenged the Syrian régime militarily. This is because the original conflict is between the Syrian régime and Syrian civilians, and all other state and non-state actors commit violence within the country in relation to the Syrian régime. Iran is directly complicit with the actions of the Syrian régime, providing financial and military support that is responsible for propping up Assad. The Obama régime has been consistent in publicly condemning the régime, and avoiding any action to check their power. The repercussions of failing to center our conversation around civilians can already be seen in the mainstream conversations about Syria: the "Hands Off Syria" movement, refugees fleeing to Europe are simply labelled as migrants, and daily casualties from régime bombing have yet to stoke mass public outrage.'