By Felicity Arbuthnot
‘If a man seeks to understand Rome’s casus reason for each foreign conquest, he needs only look into the Treasury.’ (Tacitus, AD 56 – AD 117.)
As the US and UK lead towards more illegal overthrows, invasions and destruction in Iran and Syria, a political pattern of manipulation and disinformation has become an art form.
Libya, under Colonel Quaddafi, with highest (UN) Human Development Index in Africa, and living standard which drew immigrants from across the region, has been air brushed out and replaced with a “mad dog” – and a liberating lynching. Oil, spoils and reconstruction contracts, though, are being divvied out apace.
Iraq, formerly described in UN Reports as approaching “First World” standards, also much in ruins, shattered infrastructure trumpeted as due to “thirty years of neglect.” No mention of over fifteen years of decimating embargo and bombings, culminating in “Shock and Awe.” Pretty glaring omissions.
Now President Assad of Syria is being subject to the same build up – or taking down – with calls for a Libya-style “no fly zone.” Being an independent-minded Arab leader certainly comes with a health warning.
On 20th November, Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak commented: “And it’s clear to me that what happened a few weeks ago to Qaddafi… and what happened ultimately to Saddam Hussein, now might await him.”
Another day, another “despot”, more chilling alarm calls. Ehud Barak is surely in line for the Nobel Peace Prize.
But a decade or so is a long time in politics, especially with Western allies emboldened by a lynching or two.
Consider this, from political analyst Sami Moubayid, author of:” Steel and Silk, Men and Women who have Shaped Syria” and other scholarly literary over-views of the country’s modern history.
In December 2000, six months into Bashar Al-Assad’s tenure, he wrote of a “cultural revolution” the new President was implementing, entitling the piece: “A Modern-Day Attaturk.”
“Overnight the thousands of pictures of Hafez Al-Assad … disappeared”, following a statement committing to a “realistic” policy that did not immortalize and over-exaggerate leaders. “A relief … from the ever increasing photo-mania” of Syria (and the region’s) political culture.
Decades old bureaucratic laws were scrapped, a 25% wage increase was instituted – not universally welcomed, as rumors had been circulating that it would be far higher, but quite a start. Compulsory military service was “somewhat” reformed – a service instituted to counter the perceived “ever present” Israeli military threat.
Freedom of speech was “marginally” restored and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, jailed since 1982, also perceived a threat to the regime’s existence, were released. A conciliatory hand extended. An Ex-chief of staff to his father, with close links to Washington, who had fled the country after allegations of corruption, was welcomed back and received as a guest in the Presidential palace. Another returnee was an “outspoken” newspaper Editor, formerly critical of the regime – who resumed his criticisms.
Before becoming President, Bashar had opened the country up to internet and mobile ‘phone use.
When his father had traveled : “… roads were sealed (and) his entourage comprised ten cars, a mine detector and an ambulance.” Bashar began driving himself, with two car security, eating in public restaurants and attending prayers in various mosques.
He was, concluded Moubayed: “ … revolutionizing Syrian society at a slow and delicate pace”, warning of the: ”the challenge of living up to his people’s very high expectations.”
Given the subsequent turmoil in the region and Syria’s hosting of nearly two million post-invasion Iraqi refugees, he has walked a challenging political and financial tight rope.
Media, politicians and rights groups citing human rights abuses as excuse for regime change, seemingly forget Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and uncounted renditions to unknown detention dungeons across the world; torture, water boarding, and simply disappearing.
In an imperfect world, threatened Syria is fighting an enemy within, but the US, UK and allies most recent marauding, is uncounted horrifying deaths, acres of communities turned to rubble, culminating in the second lynching of a sovereign leader.
The remodeling of the Middle East, however, has been long on the cards .”9/11”, it is increasingly clear, provided the perfect excuse.
“In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel’s enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad”, wrote Patrick Buchanan in 2003, reminds Maidhc