Sunday, 22 May 2016

There is no ’Syrian government’

 "In most of western political discourse - and the ongoing peace negotiations - a tripartite is used when describing the current political situation in Syria. We have the so-called ’Islamic State’, a terrorist organization that rules mostly desert area and some bigger cities, ’the rebels’, various groups from moderates to Islamists that hold scattered areas throughout the country and the ’Syrian government’, the regime that ruled all of Syria until 2011 and which is still led by Bashar al-Assad. Such a description would be unproblematic if the used terms wouldn’t be connoted with highly normative content. 

 No one doubts that the ’Islamic State’ has no legitimacy whatsoever in ruling any square meter of Syria as its aims and methods are widely believed to be inhumane and nonnegotiable. The term ’rebels’, sometimes replaced by ’insurgents’, ’the armed uprising’ or ’the Syrian opposition’ is not necessarily negatively charged. Still, it describes a questionable, dubious and often doubtful movement, rather shaped by aspiration to receive legitimacy and the entitlement to govern than the natural right to do so. The mostly-used term ’rebels’ also (mis-)leads as an antonym to the remaining party as it defines it as the legitimate ruling body of Syria - the ’Syrian government’.

 Saying someone represents a ’government’ means acknowledging he has the ’authority’ - the power and right - to govern a country, speak for its population and represent its interests in internal and external negotiations. And there are hundreds of reasons why the reverse is true for dictator Assad and his gang.

 Yes, most people still live in government areas but this has several - not less criminal - reasons. The war, driven by dictator Assad, displaced more than 11 million people and 4.5 million have left Syria since then, most to neighboring countries and some to Europe. Another 7 million people are listed as internally displaced. Former population hubs that are now under rebel control have lost most of their population. Some fled rebel rule but most fled the ongoing regime air strikes on these areas and unbearable living conditions, caused by starvation campaigns and targeted attacks on vital infrastructure like schools, hospitals, electricity and water facilities. Up to 400.000 civilians, almost 2 percent of Syria’s population, have been killed, 9 of 10 of them by Assad’s brutal campaign against the people of Syria. So, there are many reasons why the majority of Syrians still live under Assad’s control. None of them qualifies the regime to be called ’the government’ of Syria.

he Assad regime today relies mostly on foreign support, namely from Iran and its proxies and Russia. The power of its reign doesn’t originate from inside Syria anymore. With hundreds of thousands of young men having fled looming conscription by Assad’s collapsing military, foreign ground and air forces do the job for the regime in Damascus today. This qualifies Assad at best as a proxy war lord, realistically as Tehran’s and Moscow’s puppet at the strategically important eastern shore of the Mediterranean.

 All these aspects bring us back to the question why western politicians continue to refer to Assad-loyal officials and troops as the ’Syrian government’. Continuing to refer to the Assad regime as the ’Syrian government’ contradicts all facts on the ground in Syria and ignores the atrocities and campaign of millionfold displacement this body is practicing. What the ’Syrian government’ euphemism does is legitimizing the party that continues to kill between 30 and 60 civilians per day and has no intention to stop that policy until every person in Syria is either dead, fled the country or obeys its absolute claim to power."

No comments:

Post a Comment