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The Syrian crisis, geopolitical ramifications and consequences for India - I
As a peace activist, I recently led the Asia to Gaza peace flotilla, and in the next few articles I want to share my experiences. Even as our car approached Damascus en route from Beirut, we could see black plumes of smoke billowing from the outskirts of the city. The sound of bombardments continued all through the course of the day and night, with little respite. Way back in 2006, when Israel had waged the war on Lebanon, we had to travel from Damascus to Beirut, the twin cities of resistance.

Since the very onset, we were aware that the geopolitical war for Syria will have tremendous ramifications for the very power structure of the world - especially for West Asia, the Middle East & North Africa. Thus, there was a strategic imperative for a deeper understanding and a constructive politically informed intervention on the part of the Indian people’s movements.

The Indian delegation comprising Jatin Desai (freelance journalist), Nirja Bhatnagar (Gender & Human Rights), Mubasshiruddin Khurram (Siyasat, Urdu daily) and this author, was there as the first team (February 9-16th) of a series of Indian journalists and political activists, on an invitation from the Syrian Ministry of Information and in coordination with Syrian civil-society.

As is the case with international issues, we are largely dependent on Western news sources, both in the print and the electronic media. Even whilst India is a growing political and economic power, our political leadership, social movements, as well as the media lacks an informed and independent perspective on issues of strategic geopolitical significance. The daily reporting on Syria in our media has been entirely through the prism of Reuters, AFP, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeerah & Al Arabiya. All of these news sources are part of the very Western imperial alliance & their vassal states in the region.

This has led to a vastly distorted perspective in our analysis of the Syrian crisis, which is undergoing a war that has been unleashed upon its very unity and sovereignty. Barring a few journalists from the Left who have both reported & analysed the situation, independent of the Western paradigm, there has been no concerted or serious attempt to debate & discuss this issue in our media, fixated as we are with Islamabad, London & New York, as that comprises our worldview & little beyond.

This war against Syria is being led by an alliance comprising the US-UK-France-Turkey (Nato) & Israel, in alliance with the despotic Gulf Monarchs of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE & Bahrain.

On the other side stands the alliance of Russia-China-Venezuela & Iran, as well as the BRICS nations. Here it needs to be emphasised that India, as part of the alliance, has adopted a position that calls for an adherence to the UN charter, political solution to the Syrian crisis & has opposed foreign intervention & resorting to fomenting terrorism as a strategic option, as well as the imposition of the war on Syria by the nations that are funding, arming & fuelling an insurgency.

The Nato-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) agenda is definitely not for ‘democracy’. But it certainly is once again a glaring instance of ‘regime change’ in the garb of ‘humanitarian intervention’. The Western led alliance has mobilized militants, mercenaries & terrorists from across 29 nations to infiltrate & destroy Syria, partition & balkanize along religious, sectarian & ethnic lines.

These mercenaries are part of the global network led by the extremists Wahabis, Salafists & Takfiris, who are extremely intolerant in their beliefs & consider all other Muslim sects as kafirs, leave alone the adherents of all other faiths, where the less said the better.

Even the al-Nusra (a Taliban-Al Qaeda-like affiliate) is deeply involved in this insurgency. Thus whilst the US, UK and France claim to be fighting these very forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Mali, they have willfully and systematically organized, promoted, funded, armed & mobilized them in Libya & in Syria. The cold-blooded hypocrisy has never been more evident, but has rarely been written about in the Indian media, despite the obvious. (Syria: A Jihadi Paradise, By Pepe Escobar)

It is undoubtedly evident, that Syria requires major democratic reform in all spheres of its socio-religio-cultural, economic and political structures. This has been the message of the ‘Arab Spring’, where the Arab & Muslim masses are taking to the streets demanding their rightful democratic freedoms & aspirations. Thus Syria, which was hitherto ruled by the Baath Party, will have to undergo genuine reform, to ensure a free and vibrant democracy, where the people have the right to protest, freedom of expression, the right to dissent and a free and robust media. There is also a need to recognize the fact that Syria lacks a genuine multi-party system & as well as a reform of electoral laws.

Thus the moot point here to be considered is that, was the Syrian government & the ruling elite, which comprises all the sections, entirely opposed and disconnected from the aspirations on the ground, or where they willing to respond to a process of democratic reform & actively engage the opposition parties and civil society?

In our estimation, the Syrian Government, as well as dominant sections of the national opposition are committed to a political process of dialogue to resolve the national crisis. Thus, we need to analyse the varied complexities of the situation due to which Syria has been subjected to this war. The Nato-GCC powers had drawn up plans well in advance, for another “Libyan solution”, or even worse - ‘Somalization’!

Concludes Part 1

(Feroze Mithiborwala is a peace activist in Mumbai. He led the Asia to Gaza peace flotilla. Mithiborwala is the President of the Bharat Bachao Andolan, General Secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum, General Coordinator of the Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine & the one of the Founders of the Asian People's Convoy to Gaza & the Global March to Jerusalem.)

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