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Notes on Foreign Intervention: Azmi Bishara on Foreign Intervention, Real and Imagined

Azmi Bishara

January 24, 2013

1) In the end, there was foreign intervention—but in Mali, and against the Islamists, and not in Syria, where the regime accuses the Islamists of being American stooges.

2) A point which gave some observers pause for thought: those who opposed foreign military intervention in Libya against Qaddafi kept quiet about military intervention in Mali, some of those even supported it. I would say this is nothing out of the ordinary, since attitudes to foreign intervention were never based on principle, but rather have always been based on interests. This applies to US intervention in the Korean peninsula and Viet Nam; to Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan; and latterly American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those parties which stand opposed to such intervention in Syria—or rather, imagine such intervention into being to give themselves the chance to oppose it—have in the past supported imperialist interventions in Iraq, whether openly or implicitly. They openly supported the same in Afghanistan, and now claim to oppose (non-existent) intervention in Syria.

3) The Western game in Syria has been duplicitous and dirty: they wax lyrical about supporting the revolution, so that they can infiltrate it without having to provide meaningful support. What loss is it for the West to have their agents within the revolution work for them without having to give anything in return? As was true in many other cases, the debate on foreign intervention within the ranks of the Syrian opposition was futile. As in those other cases, this futility was born of endless remonstrations and of political inexperience.

4) The Assad regime's main source of strength, at the moment, comes from one of the global power camps yet it is the silenceof the other camp which allows the regime to use violence without limit, the only exception being the bar placed on the use of chemical weapons. Even that is a hypothetical restriction: the destructive power of the weapons which the regime has already deployed against Syrian cities far surpasses that of any chemical weapons. I personally have no doubt that Israeli fears surrounding the uncertain future of Syria, once stabilized, and American caution over any intervention in the region following the Iraq debacle, are part and parcel of wider international complicity in the destruction of Syria. The reason I describe this as the regime's most important source of power at the moment is that no other regime has had such free rein to use force against its own people since the beginning of the information revolution. If only international powers had placed limits on the Assad’s use of violence, merely with a no-fly zone, then even the regime's sectarian-based support would wither away.

5) The regime’s use of violence does not let those countries which have called for Assad to step down off the hook. Instead, the violence already used has dissipated any international or regional political legitimacy which the regime had left. This is not to mention the regime’s domestic legitimacy, which long ago went beyond the point of no return.

6) In the end, the Syrian regime’s ability to use violence will be expended. Not because of international disgust, however, but rather due to the steadfastness of the Syrian people and their sacrifices, and their continued ability to give rise to forces which fight against the regime. These people are justified in their demands to find ways of fending off aerial bombardment.

7) The Syrian people’s victory is being forged in the midst of international inaction, and with the support of only Arab countries (to be exact, only one or two of them). Even that support barely covers the minimum needed to maintain their resistance, even so far as relief for a crisis-ridden people goes. All this will be remembered, however, once the tide turns and the countries of the world begin to line up to fill their pockets with the gains won by the national struggle.

[Edited translation from the Azmi Bishara Arabic facebook page]





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