Also, the role of the global corporate media needs to be discussed and exposed. Once again, it was the media, led by the CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya amongst others, that fired the first salvos, even before the mercenaries were mobilized from across the world. Their agenda of the corporate media is to pave the way for foreign intervention by distorting the news, through sheer lies and deception. They were manufacturing consent for a Nato-GCC intervention, but were prevented this time (unlike in Libya) by Russia and China, as well as the BRICS. Here it is important to state that Al Jazeera has lost all credibility amongst vast sections of the Arab masses and counter channels are now taking root in the Arab nations.
The Syrian crisis is also deepening the political differences between the Islamists led by the Ikhwanul Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and the Salafists on the one hand and the secular-left liberal opposition on the other. This is evident in Egypt, Tunisia and even in Turkey.
After sustaining the onslaught for nearly two years, certain powers have understood that now there is no military solution or possibility of regime change, nor can Syrian society be divided along religio-sectarian lines. Thus many Syrians themselves are now taking the initiative and calling for national reconciliation and democratic reform.
Thus now from Mr. Araby of the Arab League, Muhammad Khatib of the Syrian National Congress (SNC backed by the Nato-GCC), as well as other sane voices across the Arab world are calling for a negotiated solution.
Therefore, Syria is now very important to the fate of the world itself. It’s about a liberal secular democratic Syria that respects all faiths, that treats all its citizens as equal and not merely as protected dhimmis, veritable second class citizens. It’s about ensuring that the plural culture of Syria triumphs over the regressive forces unleashed against an ancient and advanced civilization.
It’s about ensuring that Churches are not destroyed as was the recent despicable fatwa from Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the so-called Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia (Not a word in the Western media outlets, so as to protect the image of ‘moderate’ Saudi Arabia).
It’s about a democracy that ensures an equal stake to all sections of society and in due course, the majority sections will assume power through the ballot itself. But this does not mean that only a Muslim must lead Syria. The Syrian Christians must have the same right. Currently, a Christian is debarred from the top post, even in an avowedly secular socialist Syria. This was shocking and is just unacceptable and the Constitution must delete ‘clause 3’ which was inserted in 1951, as a compromise between the secularists and the conservatives.
The majority of Muslims that we spoke to said that this clause was unjust and must be removed. The Christians certainly find it extremely discriminatory, and rightly so. Due to pressure built by conservatives, Muslims and Christians cannot currently inter-marry and a Christian has to convert to Islam, whilst the Muslim cannot. Apart from religious law, there is a need for the option of civil law as well. Many of the youth also find this law truly absurd and are planning to reform many such discriminatory laws. Also, for the first time in decades, the Kurdish language has been recognized amongst the national languages and this is indeed a victory for the Kurdish people.
The overwhelming Palestinian population too enjoys a great degree of opportunity for their socio-economic advancement and respect the support that Syria has always given them, especially during their worst years, when most of the Arab regimes had abandoned their cause.
It’s thus about defending the arch of the resistance, stretching from Iran, the Turkish people, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, even as it spreads to liberate more nations and people.
The victory of Syria will restore Russia to its rightful place as a world leader on par with the US. Thus the political, economic and military assertion of Russia-China, in alliance with Brazil, India, Iran, Venezuela and South Africa, will lead to a new political restructuring of international relations, with the economic and strategic balance increasingly moving away from the West.
The people of Syria are undergoing great devastation and death, in a war that has been imposed on a hapless population, who still cannot believe that their nation is being subjected to this tragedy. Yet the Syrian nation possesses the inherent strength, wisdom and courage to withstand the onslaught and emerge far stronger from the ever before. If left to themselves, they will resolve the national crisis in due course of time. The new Syria that will emerge will be very different, far more democratic and a people that after a long and arduous struggle will not only have succeeded in defending their nation, but will have won more rights to ensure the genuine empowerment of the people and committed to the values of social justice and to a plural multi-ethno-religious ethos.
The Syrian nation resistance will also have contributed to the further retreat and downfall of the Imperial-Zionist project for global hegemony.
On the very last day, we visited the magnificent and exquisite Omayyad Mosque, whose grandeur is breathtaking. Men and women both pray together, even as Shias have been provided with two rooms, which also houses the ‘Ras-ul-Hussain’ and the shrine dedicated to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. The mosque also houses the Shrine of St. John the Baptist. Nearby lay the mausoleum of Saladin the great. Our attempts to pay our respects at the Shrine of Syeda Zainab were not facilitated due to security considerations.
We then walked down the cobbled lanes of the Christian quarters of Bab Touma and paid our respects at the Church of Ananias (more than 2000 years old), dedicated to the memory of St. Paul himself.
This was all astounding to witness and provides great hope for the future of the world. I silently prayed at each of these spiritual centres, for God to protect this ancient nation and to restore peace.
One evening, in a short taxi ride, even as the bombings continued, we discussed the future of Syria with the taxi-driver, who smilingly stated – “Don’t worry, we are a 10,000 year old civilization, we have seen worse and will overcome this crisis.” He did not need any words of assurance, as he knew within his heart. (Concluded)
Feroze 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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