A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: Sectarian War

Israel Welcomes Sunni-Shia Conflict

By Israeli officials’ own accounts, the Syrian uprising/war and even the rise of al-Qaeda on Israel’s doorstep have generally boosted Israel’s position in the region: “an increase in terrorist activity on Israel’s borders by terrorist groups … has thus far not materialized into a strategic threat….the opportunities presented by the upheavals in the Arab world outweigh the risks they incur. Foremost among these opportunities is the worsening relations between the Sunni axis led by Saudi Arabia and the Shia axis led by Iran. The weakening of the Shia axis, primarily as a result of the civil war in Syria, has broadened Israel’s room to maneuver in the Middle East and created an opportunity to expand its cooperation with the Sunni axis countries.”

Read al-Akhbar’s summary of Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin’s conclusion for the “Strategic Survey for Israel 2013-2014” here

 

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When the same resistance that fought and defeated the Zionist enemy in 2006 becomes militarily engaged in Syria, this only confirms the fact that this is not a “revolution” against the Syrian “regime” but a war on the Syrian Arab Republic and the Resistance Axis of which it is part. This war is an extension of the July War, and it is no coincidence that it is backed by the same Arab and Western powers which backed Israel’s onslaught against Lebanon. Just as Hizbullah was accused of neglecting its resistance priority in May 2008 when it was dragged into clashes with Lebanese Sunnis, it is being similarly accused today of turning its guns against fellow Muslims. What many fail to understand however, is that as in 2008 when March 14 tried to dismantle Hizbullah’s telecom network and drag it into a civil war, the movement’s involvement in Syria today IS a defense of its resistance and not merely a defense of its Syrian ally. 
Protecting Lebanese and Syrians in neighbouring villages, assisting the Syrian army in liberating areas occupied by takfiri jihadis which border Lebanese villages — and hence pose a strategic threat to its resistance— and training the government backed Popular Committees in guerilla warfare are all part and parcel of Hizbullah’s defense of the resistance which will be the first casualty of any regime change in Syria, as opposition forces have been promising for two years now. While this may seem distasteful to many Arabs who pay lip service to supporting Palestine, such are the sacrifices that must be made for the liberation of Palestine and the region from the Zionist entity. It is also the price that must be paid for preserving Syria’s territorial intergrity and holding in check those who seek to annihilate Christians, Shias and mainstream Sunnis. To prevent a regional sectarian war, Hizbullah has no choice but to help defend Syria from those whose primary agenda is precisely that.
And for those who believe western and Arab media’s exaggerated reports about the scope of Hizbullah’s military activity in Syria, one need only point to the limited number of martyrs Hizbullah has lost (around 35) and remind them that if Hizbullah did indeed deploy large numbers of fighters to Syria, much of Syria would have been liberated by now.

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An op-ed today in al-Akhbar referred to Israel as  “the enemy” in Arabic. Although use of this term to describe Israel was once very common in Arab popular parlance and in local media, its use in this context has significantly decreased since the Syrian uprising.  Once a term reserved almost exclusively to Israel, the concept of the enemy from without has been fast replaced by the enemy from within in both pro-government and opposition circles. While government supporters can hardly be faulted for depicting the Zionist-normalizing, NATO-loving FSA as an “enemy” force, especially given its proxy status and military links with Syria’s strategic enemies, as well as its intent to destroy Syria as a state, it is both morally inexcusable and intellectually indefensible for Syrians and Arabs who profess enmity towards Israel, to use this term to describe the Assad government or Hizbullah or Iran, all of whom have paid a high price for confronting the Israeli enemy both politically and militarily.

The danger of such labeling can hardly be overstated in this case; the link between power and language has been well documented by the likes of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. As these thinkers have noted, language creates not only knowledge, but reality itself. The resulting discourse, which becomes internalized by its subjects shapes their assumptions, values and cultural habits. In short, it changes and re-fashions their political identity and beliefs.

To be more accurate, this discursive onslaught began in 2005 when the Lebanese became divided over whether Syria or Israel was their real enemy, with some March 14 politicians referring to the Zionist entity as “our neighbor”. But irrespective of this semantic divide and March 14’s collaboration with Israel during the July war as Wikileaks documents later revealed, not once did Hizbullah refer to the opposing camp as “the enemy”,” and settled on terms like “ our opponents/rivals” and “the other camp”.  Compare  this to the Syrian opposition camp today, whose leading “intellectuals” and activists in the Arab world have no qualms about speaking of the “Shia enemy” or the “Iranian enemy”, or cheering on the FSA who issue empty threats to attack Hizbullah and assassinate Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah.

By redefining the concept of the “enemy”, both the Syrian uprising and to a lesser extent, its US- engineered counterpart in Lebanon, have succeeded in reversing decades of Arab political socialization, whereby those who prioritize resistance to Israel and the US are mocked and dismissed as old-school anti-imperialists, or more disparagingly by Third Wayers like Bassam Haddad, as “Fumigating Anti-Imperialists”.

  The Arab Spring may not be a revolution in the economic or political sense of the term, but it has achieved a semantic revolution which, if left unchecked by counter-hegemonic forces, will lead to the full intellectual and political colonization of the Arab mind and the Arab identity. 

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I have noticed a disturbing tendency among all too many Arabs and Arab pundits to reduce the war in Syria to an internal and/or external power struggle involving the Syrian state and other parties. This is not merely an analytic flaw but a moral one as it overlooks the extent to which Syria has become a NATIONAL cause in its own right. Given that unified and cohesive nations are the socially and politically constructed outgrowths of strong centralized states, the destruction of the Syrian state necessarily entails the destruction of the Syrian nation both as a physically real community and as an imagined community and identity. 
As has become readily apparent, the ultimate objective of the Empire and its Arab and Zionist tools in the region, is not merely the overthrow of the Syrian “regime” but the destruction of the Syrian state. Considering Empire’s inability to exercise direct colonization as was the case in Palestine, or political control as is the case in the Gulf and Arab monarchies and the low-intensity democracies governed by House-Islamists, the only means of dominating recalcitrant nations like Syria, is to fragment the state and destroy “the “only remaining strong Arab army”, to borrow Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s phrase, and replace it with the “tribes with flags” template; or more specifically, the sects with [colonial and black al-Qaeda] flags template.
The result that is sought is the eradication of the Syrian Arab Republic, and with it the erasure of the Syrian nation and the political identity that characterized it. And that is why Syria is not merely a state in crisis or a bloody civil war but a national cause that we must all fight to defend as we do with Palestine, for without Syria there can be no Palestine and no Lebanon and no nation, Syrian or otherwise.

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A friend on Facebook just asked me how tolerant Iran was of the Syrian MB given  Iran’s 6 point plan solution. I answered this: The Iranians have to accept the Syrian Brotherhood just as they did in Egypt. Iran’s biggest threat today comes from the sectarian scourge. As I keep repeating, sectarianism is the new Israel for the Resistance axis. When we consider the amount of popular support the MB enjoys—as much we may dislike this fact—and the fact that the other option are the Salafis and Salafi Takfiris, Iran has to build bridges with the less intolerant and violent of the two. For all its “Islamic awakening”” rhetoric with regard to the Arab uprisings, Iran is of course much more secure with the type of secularism represented by Assad than the Sunni Islamism represented by these increasingly sectarian mainstream trends. But if Iran hopes to neutralize some of these sectarian tensions, it has to embrace the inevitable ascent of Islamism in the region, just as the Americans and NATO countries have. Islamic unity is not merely desirable on the doctrinal or ideological levels, it has now become a strategic necessity to thwart Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics. Israel was an easier enemy to defeat than sectarianism.

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Back in June, I wrote this in my “Three’s a Crowd” article where I critiqued the Third Way “In fifteen months, third-wayers have failed to deliver a political solution for a conflict that now belongs entirely to larger geopolitical players.”
Now, Third Wayer par excellence, Bassam Haddad, editor of Jadaliyya admits in this article, “Some of us have critiqued this binary by saying we are against both [authoritarianism and imperialism], but we were in turn critiqued because that position was no longer real, as there was no local agency that espoused it.” 

But then he undermines his own semi-concession by adding “Yet there are no metrics to determine whether the binary positions that pit regime (or status quo) supporters against supporters of the now multi-faceted uprising are any better.” 
Actually there are such metrics to determine this. And this measure is intellectual imperialism. 
Having said that, and given how Third Wayers are moving in one of two directions: either identifying themselves with the opposition or further away from it by acknowledging, as Haddad does, “the extent that it has been “hijacked by exogenous factors, actors, and sentiments,” this intellectual debate has become largely irrelevant. 
Due to Empire’s inability to invade and topple the Assad government, the aim now is to bring about the collapse of the political system by way of an internally generated implosion. As such, all our efforts as intellectuals and activists should now be focused on exposing the Empire’s strategy and tactics, while emphasizing the need for a negotiated resolution (both local and regional) of the sectarian conflict that is destroying Syria and which threatens to destroy the region as a whole.

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I had my wisdom tooth extracted today, but reading this Reuters report below was by far more painful.  The report resorts to the most brazen sectarian agitation and warmongering; the resistance front is reduced to an all Shi’ite alliance while its imperialist serving enemies (GCC, Turkey etc) are identified first and foremost as Sunni. The words Sunni and Shiíte are inserted so frequently that the paragraph just looks absurd. In the past, the words “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” were used to prefix every mention of Hizbullah, but now that the conflicts is being pitted as a Sunni-Shiíte one, that is no longer meets MSM’s war-mongering purposes. See excerpt below:

 "The “axis of resistance” refers to Shi’ite Iran’s anti-Israel alliance with Syria’s rulers – from the Alawite faith which is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam – and the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, with Iranian and Syrian support. Damascus and Tehran have held Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states and Turkey, all allies of the United States and European powers, responsible for the bloodshed in Syria by supporting the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels." 

Full report here

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I have never felt so scared before for the fate of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, and the  region as a whole, as I do now. There are no workable prescriptions any more from either the First or the Third ways. It’s too late now. We’re doomed. 
Even at the height of the July War, and despite the devastation and loss of lives, I knew our Resistance heroes were going to triumph. I was so confident of this that I stayed put and refused to flee with my family to the UK. 
But this time round in Syria, and especially after reading Ibrahim Alamine’s piece, no matter how much of a detached and objective “analyst” or “academic” I try to be, I end up feeling and seeing things just like any other terrified Arab citizen with some idea of what’s to come: they are going to destroy our region this time and not with Israel but with sectarian civil war. Yes, sectarian war is the new Israel, capable of accomplishing what Israel failed to do. Empire is winning.

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Just when you think mainstream media couldn’t possibly insult your intelligence more than they already have, they prove you wrong with cruder and downright absurd fabrications.

Here is one such example from a news story in the Guardian entitled “The Houla massacre: reconstructing the events of 25 May”, which should be renamed ”The Houla Massacre: Recreating the Events of May 25”.

Some excerpts:

"I saw my father’s brains spill from his head." One of the security men fired his gun into the ceiling, she said, and shouted: "We took revenge for you, Imam Ali" – a reference to the most revered imam of the Shia Islamic faith.

Right, because that’s exactly how a Shi’ite sectarian murderer would behave when he is in the midst of a massacre—he  offers Sunni blood to Imam Ali in much the same way cannibals are expected invoke the name of Hannibal Lecter before devouring their victims. For the record, silly Orientalist Guardian writers, this is not part of any religious Shi’ite rite, Imam Ali is simply not invoked that way.  Shi”ism is a sect, not a sacrificial cult.

Many of the wounded in Houla are still being treated in makeshift medical clinics. Among them are people whose families worked with regime security forces or the local police.

"They were targeted because they were linked to the regime," one of the nurses treating the wounded men said. "The Shabiha wanted to create the impression that other forces were responsible."

Right again. How deviously ingenious of the shabeeha to murder the regime’s own supporters in order to deflect attention away from the sacrifices in Sunni blood they pledged to Imam Ali.

And every time a new narrative emerges which becomes hard for the information warlords to dispute—like the loyalist identities of those killed—mainstream media will invest no more than 2 minutes finding a way to turn it into a counter-intuitive factoid which will be readily digested by its consumers who are in perpetual cognitive autopilot mode.  



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"Let us suspend all moral judgment of Bashar al-Assad for one moment and assume (for argument’s sake) that he is the devil incarnate and deserves as much, if not more, blame than the opposition. Let us assume he has been of no value to the Palestinian cause and resistance. I am only interested here in the result this “revolution” has had on human lives: was there sectarian strife, an upsurge in Salafi-Takfiri jihadism, weekly al-Qaeda terrorism, civil war and massacres before this uprising? I am guessing no. But hey, congratulations on your revolution anyway."

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'Iran: Military intervention in Syria woul... JPost

My last post before I retreat for the next couple of days to finish up some work. Both sides preparing for a possible showdown. Ali Larijani threatens war on Israel in case of invasion of Syria, which I am confident isn’t mere hyperbole or saber-rattling:“US military officials probably have a poor understanding of themselves and regional issues because Syria is in no way similar to Libya, and (the effects of) creating another Benghazi in Syria would spread to Palestine, and ash rising from the flames would definitely envelop the Zionist regime.”

Susan Rice, threatens to unleash sectarian warfare in the region (this woman always has a habit of making veiled threats. She threatened more violence after the last terrorist attack for example): "In the absence of either of those two scenarios there seems to be only one other alternative, and that is indeed the worst case," Rice said, adding that it was unfortunately looking like "the most probable." "That is that the violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies," she said. "It involves countries in the region, it takes on increasingly sectarian forms, and we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the region." In such a case, Rice said, the Annan plan would be dead and the Syrian violence would become "a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides."

Rice concludes with threat of invasion (one of my readers suggested I stop using the term “intervention” as a euphemism for invasion and he/she is right): "And members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council," she said.

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There is a new, and quite plausible, alternative narrative that has emerged these past two days which describes the Houla massacre as Alawite retaliation for an earlier massacre committed by armed Sunni oppositionists against the Alawite village of al-Shoumariyeh. According to many unconfirmed reports, vengeful and armed villagers and /or shabiha retaliated for the massacre by butchering villagers from the neighbouring village of Houla. Apparently, the artillery rounds the Syrian army fired at rebel-controlled Houla was an attempt to end the bloodshed in Shamariyeh, or something to that effect. How the perpetrators of the massacre entered a rebel stronghold and executed such a large massacre unimpeded remains to be seen.

Although some claim the al-Shoumariyeh massacre occurred after the Houla massacre, the Syrian news agency, SANA, reports that “foreign-funded armed terrorist groups” committed massacres in al-Shoumariyeh and Taldao on Friday, 25 May, at 2:00 p.m. Considering that the Houla massacre is widely reported to have commenced around 3 p.m. that same day, it does appear that the Houla massacre occurred after the first two, or around the same time. None of this confirms the new narrative, but it doesn’t undermine it either.

While the details are still very murky, the UN seems to have caught on to this story, or some related version thereof, as its -peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous recently declared ”There is strong suspicion that the Shabiha were involved in this tragedy in Houla.” Russia has given its blessing to a UN investigation into the incident.

Like any of the narratives about the Houla massacre, the above story has not been substantiated by any evidence, least of all the dominant narrative which places the blame squarely on the Syrian regime. I only chose to comment on this alternative narrative because I deemed it more plausible than the latter, and hence, worthy of commentary, but it remains a narrative not a fact. I don’t necessarily deem it the most probable explanation for what happened in Houla on May 25, given how much the massacre served US-NATO-GCC interests. What I am arguing here though, is that even if we assume that this Alawite revenge narrative is true, that should not implicate the Syrian regime in the massacre.

I wrote a short post a few days ago on why I thought it highly unlikely the “regime” would commit an atrocity like this. I still stand by my analysis, despite the materialization of this new narrative. When I said regime, I actually meant the Syrian army, as all fingers were initially pointed at it. I didn’t/ still don’t think it makes any sense for a conventional armed force with a clear chain of command to subject itself to charges of war crimes—which is much easier to make when there is a clear-cut  organizational hierarchy and hence, accountability, not to mention potential refusniks and defectors given the heinous nature of the crime— in a context of overwhelming international pressure and when the entire world is watching every move and mismove it makes. While I am aware that the shabiha constitute the state’s “unofficial” arm, (some compare it to Iran’s basij), I still deem it highly improbable that the Assad leadership would order shabiha to carry out a killing rampage on its behalf in a Sunni village it had already shelled, for the same reasons I outlined in my earlier post: it stands everything to lose and nothing to gain. And no,  the “gain” of terrorizing the villagers and rebels into submission (assuming that is even an effective method of reasserting control) just doesn’t outweigh all the risks that accompany such a tactic. It is much more probable, that these armed elements acted out of revenge of their own accord, as revenge massacres often are.  

As for the argument by opposition supporters and others, which regards the regime as being ultimately responsible for all violence, irrespective of its source, the fact remains that this is a government which no longer has full control of its territory, or a monopoly on the use of violence. Indeed, it is precisely for this reason that it’s trying to retrieve sovereignty over its land by the force of arms, and in so doing, exposing itself to often unfounded accusations of wide-scale repression, killing and war crimes.  At the end of the day, what we have in Syria is a situation characterized by sectarian warfare, armed insurrection, al-Qaeda terrorism and blatant NATO-GCC intervention —hardly the ingredients of a strong centralized government which can be held to account for every act of violence that takes place on Syrian soil. 

One can only wait for an impartial and objective inquiry before jumping to make predetermined conclusions which only serve the agenda of those pushing for a NATO invasion of Syria. So much political capital is being made out of this inconceivably evil massacre: Both France and the US have now expressed their willingness for military intervention in Syria as a result of this atrocity, which Kofi Annan has rightly labelled it a “tipping point” in the conflict. Uncovering the perpetrators is therefore imperative not only for justice to be served but also for averting a wider regional war. 

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I have reached the point of absolute disgust with Third-Way intellectuals. I just read a very popular status (shame on all my Lebanese Facebook friends who liked it) on a Lebanese BDS activist/intellectual’s wall which basically says that even if the Houla massacre was committed by the opposition, the regime is still to blame because after all “isn’t it the state? How can it allow a crime like this to happen on its territory?” 
Are you people for real? Now that the opposition’s role and culpability in much of the sectarian violence and butchery has come to light, you are now resorting to the most intellectually bankrupt tactic: blame the regime for the opposition’s violence too. Do you have any idea how your incitement against the regime further incites sectarian oppositionists who identify the regime with Alawites? Forget how you are serving the interests of Empire, Israel, GCC countries etc. for one minute, do you not see how you are indirectly stoking sectarian warfare? Shame on all of you for your irresponsible self-serving position.

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"All those pundits out there who are speculating whether Hizbullah will get dragged into this sectarian strife, either forget or deliberately ignore the fact that when Hizbullah was forced into clashes with its domestic foes in May 2008, it was to protect its Resistance’s arms (its highly vaunted telecommunications network) and NOT to retaliate for the killings of its Shi’ite supporters. Hizbullah will never fall prey to Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics which aim to divert its focus away from resisting Israel."

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