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

Posts Tagged: Syria

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As I watch Putin’s standing ovation today in the Russian parliament, and read news about Hizbullah’s latest attack on Israeli occupation troops in the Golan, I can’t help but think how terrifying it is to have an enemy as quintessentially stupid as the US and its allies. Just 3 weeks ago, an NYT headline penned by the head of Carnegie’s Moscow Center, boldly declared “Why Russia Won’t Interfere.” Such myopia is reminiscent of the “Assad’s days are numbered” mantra, and predictions about how “Hizbullah won’t respond [to Israel]” .
Time and time again, we find that US intelligence services, think tanks and policy makers misread their enemy’s intentions and willingness to respond militarily to US/NATO/Zionist destabilization and aggression campaigns. The problem lies in their very rationality which is based on the deeply flawed premise that only imperialist powers will dare act militarily in puruit of their “security interests” (a euphemism for imperialist designs) while other nations can be sanctioned, destabilized and even bombed into submission, without standing up for their rights, security and very existence . And when anti-imperialist forces do strike back in self-defense, the US & co appear genuinely shocked by their digression from this “rational actor” model and are consequently branded as irrational (Assad is “delusional”, Putin is “in another world”, etc.) pariahs who can only be restrained by means of further sanctions, destabilization and bombing campaigns. What can be more terrifying than an enemy who possesses such a rationality?

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A MUST WATCH!! Remarkable footage HERE and HERE exclusive to Manar Tv of the ambush the Syrian Army staged against Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwa al-Islam rebels in Eastern Ghouta, killing 175 of them in one go. This is not the same footage al-Mayadeen showed of the rebels’ corpses , this is the operation itself. The army appears to have anticipated their advance and planted land mines across the entire area. I have never seen such a large formation of troops advance and fall at the same time, it’s almost unreal. Wow.

http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?eid=761770&cid=21&fromval=1&frid=21&seccatid=23&s1=1

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I rarely post stuff on women’s issues, but I just discovered this commentary in the Guardian by Jill Filipovic, which was begging for a smackdown. Sarcastically entitled “Can Girls Even Find Syria on the Map?” the author calls for greater participation of women in the “major international debate” on Syria because she is unhappy with the ratio of female to male information warlords. As an a Arab woman and a Marxist “Critical Feminist”,  I have to ask bourgeois liberal feminists the following:

Who says this is YOUR debate in the first place? And by you, I mean you American and European “experts”. Women asides, what gives your universities, think tanks and media the right to be debating and determining the destiny of our region? Why do we never question the colonial mentality that underlies your Middle East departments and bureaus, your “centers for democracy” and “peace” for the Middle East initiatives? Who the hell are you to be studying us and issuing us Euro-American directives on “good governance” and “conflict resolution”? Crises of governance and conflicts which have been engineered by none other than your governments , with your intellectual cover.

What gives privileged white women the right to be pursuing their supposed “emancipation” on the backs of our oppressed people? And why are the needs of this “debate” greater than the need of Syria and its people?

On what moral grounds should Syrian and Arab women be celebrating the inclusion of more female liberal imperialists in framing the mainstream narrative on Syria? Should Syrian women thank their western counterparts for enjoining western governments to invade Syria? Or should they be thankful for the justifications made by these women for the arms that are being funneled to “moderate” takfiris and jihadis who oppress women in the most gruesome and violent of ways imaginable?  Do Arab women really need more Elizabeth O’Bagys and Christian Amanpours to distort and fabricate the reality they are living?

And who says that women’s liberation is best served by jumping on the male-dominated bandwagon which oppresses and disempowers the weak and marginalized? In this case and in others, the erasure of difference does not lead to greater gender equality; only to the assimilation of hegemonic ideology, and hence a more sinister type of subordination by consent.  

 How can women’s oppression be extricated from the same patriarchal-capitalist system which oppresses other classes and races? How can we ignore the “intersectionality” of hegemonic institutions which reinforce the different modes of oppression that women are subjected to?  As Bell Hooks and other proponents of Critical Feminist theory have argued, feminism is “a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels, as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.”

As a “female Middle East expert who lives in the region” to borrow Filipovic’s words, my voice is not excluded from this debate because it is a female voice as she contends, but because it is an anti-imperialist voice. And frankly, I don’t want a “voice” in this “international debate” if the terms of this debate are still dictated by the white man and his interests.

Yes, Syria does need more women’s voices, but only those resistant voices which have liberated themselves from the imperatives of bourgeois liberal individualism and which refuse to submit to the discursive parameters drawn up by the Academy and mainstream media.  What Syria needs is more women who understand how their liberation is linked to their freedom and dignity as human beings who are free from all forms of exploitation and subjugation. An integral part of this freedom is a sovereign and unitary Syria which is free from the predatory ambitions of the Empire and its Arab minions. 

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We saw it in Syria and now we are witnessing it again in Ukraine and Venezuela; namely, using the politics of protest to engineer anti-democractic movements which seek to overthrow popular and/or elected governments in the name of democratic freedoms. And we aren’t merely talking about undemocratic groups here, but anti-democractic movements which are opposed in principle to democracy (takfiris and jihadis in Syria; right-wing fascists in Ukraine; reactionary neo-liberals in Venezuela). In all these cases, governments are being rebuked, pressured and sanctioned for exercising their constitutionally prescribed and universally recognized duty to maintain law and order and to protect national security, public safety and national unity. And as we witnessed in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, democracy and revolution are now redefined in the public imagination as any popular outpouring of anger irrespective of the nature of its demands, the medium through which it is expressed, or its intersection with the interests of global capital.

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If Israel is a cancer implanted in our midst then the Saudi regime is surely our brain aneurysm. The terrorist bombings in Syria and Lebanon by Saudi-backed groups like Jabhet al-Nusra, have made it clear to us all that there will be no peace or stability in our region so long as this reactionary and decrepit ruling family remains; this pinnacle of moral debauchery; this orgy of violence, “immersed in the mud of enslavement, infanticide and other medieval practices” to borrow the words of Walid Muallem; this architect of filthy Wahhabi sectarianism masquerading as an “Islamic school of thought;” this subhuman cabal of evil incarnate which is too cowardly to fight its own battles but must subcontract them to takfiri nihilists.. .There can be no coexistence with this pathological condition otherwise known as a “regional powerhouse.” The Saudi regime must go.

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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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Without ignoring or belittling Saudi sponsorship of the Takfiri groups who are slaying Lebanese and Syrian civilians, let us not forget the culpability of Israel and the US in these crimes, including today’s Dahyeh bombing. Not only do we now know that the Obama adminstration has been reaching out to “engage” the Islamic Front in Syria, which contains Al-Qaeda affiliates like Ahrar Al Sham (a senior figure for the group, Abu Khaled al Suri, admitted as much recently), but even more significantly, Obama made this very telling statement to the New Yorker, which effectively distinguishes between a good and a bad al-Qaeda and normalizes the former as a just another benign [to the US at least] sectarian force, involved in petty power-struggles, the implication being, that the US can manipulate these good Takfiris to serve its strategic interests:
I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian…And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into…But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically.”

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This article “Reassessing the Syrian Spillover” is a MUST READ. In this incisive piece, the brilliant  Belén Fernández deconstructs the concept of a “spillover” in Lebanon : “Hezbollah’s intervention, however, is repeatedly cast as the fundamental starting point in the timeline of Lebanese current events, after which all other occurrences become reactive in nature.This anti-cerebral, anti-historical approach to journalistic analysis leaves much to be desired….Far predating the alleged Syrian war importation process, incidentally, were indicators that the Al Qaeda “curse” should perhaps be attributed to non-Hezbollah entities.In 2007, for example, Seymour Hersh wrote for The New Yorker about efforts by the then-government of Fouad Siniora and billionaire future prime minister Saad Hariri, respectively, to fuel Sunni extremism in Lebanon as a counterbalance to Hezbollah…Any accurate narrative of violent “spillover” into Lebanon should thus account for imperialist ventures “to remake the Muslim world,” as Rosen puts it—a project facilitated by “regional tensions between Sunnis and Shiites stoked by the Bush administration.”

Full article here

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 I am suddenly reminded of that brilliant insight Robert Malley and Hussein Agha made when they asked “How far off is the day when Salafis present themselves to the world as the preferable alternative to jihadists?” It seems that day was only a little over a year off. We are now told that the latest Syrian Revolutionaries Front-Islamic Front-Jaish al Mujahideen onslaught against ISIS is being led by Saudi-backed “moderately Islamist”, “mainstream rebels” whom the US is trying to engage because they represent some kind of bulwark against “extremists”. That’s right, groups which seek to resurrect the Omayyad Empire and eliminate all those pesky rafidah and nusayris in their midst, are the new MODERATES. And just as in the past when “moderation” was the buzzword which described any movement or regime which was moderate on Israel and/or imperialism, today’s moderate Salafis, takfiris and Jihadis, are moderate in so far as they serve Empire’s aims. Indeed, these are “Things that make you go hmm” and not in the C and C Music Factory sense of the term either.

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As the name and description of this blog reveals, its main focus is to expose intellectual and discursive imperialism, i.e. the language imperialists use to distort our reality which we then internalize. If we are to successfully resist these attempts, we must devise a counter-hegemonic discourse of our own. In this ongoing effort, I propose the glossary below containing 20 key terms which anti-imperialists and supporters of the Resistance project should avoid or use with caution. For each widely used concept, I have suggested alternatives that we should adopt and normalize in its place. This is of course just a small sample of the discursive imperialism we are subjected to daily. I urge readers to send me suggestions for other important terms I have omitted or forgotten, especially those that relate to the war on the Resistance Axis. Once I have enough suggestions, I will update this post with a longer glossary.

1.  Arab street : This term should be avoided at all costs given its negative connotations. It alludes to an angry and unruly mob lacking organization, discipline and independent thought, and has violent and irrational connotations. The term is used exclusively to describe Arabs; all other peoples and nationalities are considered publics or people by western media. Moreover, since the Syrian crisis began, the concept of the “Street” is now used selectively by western media when referring to anti-western or anti-Zionist protests, while the concept of “people” i.e. the “Syrian people” is reserved for those representing the West’s allies. i.e. the Syrian opposition. The concept of Arab public should be used instead as it implies a politically aware and rational political culture which has democratic aspirations, and hence, is on an equal footing with western and other publics. 

2. International Community: Used mainly by US and Western officials, this essentially particularistic concept has now entered the Arab popular vernacular. It attempts to universalize the small elite club of UN Security Council members and NATO member states to imply the whole world, hence the concept of “international”. As such, any decision or stand taken by this small group of states, who make up less than 1/3 of the world’s nations, is construed as a universal decision or position taken by the whole world which stands united (the concept of “community” alludes to agreement and unity) in the face of a specific threat.  The term is therefore used as a tool for isolating states and political actors which defy imperialist powers. The concept of NATO powers or “some members of the UN Security Council” or the US and EU or US/EU/Arab Gulf alliance , depending on the context, should be used instead to downsize the alliance as one consisting of a few imperialist states and their regional proxies.

3. Regime: The concept in English has very different, and much more negative, connotations than its Arabic translation ( نظام ). Given that a regime is an authoritarian form of government, western media and public officials routinely use the term to demonize the US’ enemies, even if those governments are popularly elected i.e. the “Iranian regime”.  By the same token, US allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc. which are not merely undemocractic but openly anti-democratic, are bestowed with popular legitimacy by western officials who refer to them as “governments”. Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies should be uniformly called monarchies or regimes, while members of the Resistance Axis should be referred to as governments. This should also apply to the Syria government, which admittedly, has not historically enjoyed free and fair elections, but still enjoys a large degree of popular support and hence, has a considerable extent of popular legitimacy which regimes lack. Since repression of dissidents is not peculiar to authoritarian regimes, but also typifies some liberal democracies like the US, this criterion alone should not preclude the designation of a political system as a  government.

4. Israel:  As per the policy of Resistance media, “Israel” should never be granted legal recognition and referred to as such. Common substitutes include “Zionist entity” though it is preferable to use the term “Israeli regime” or “Zionist regime” as the latter reduces Israel to a tyranny that can be subject to “regime change” and overthrow like any other authoritarian regime, as opposed to an invincible power or permanent fixture in the region. It is also preferable to “entity” in that calling for an entity’s eradication could be construed as mass genocide, whereas a regime’s eradication is merely revolutionary overthrow of a political order.

Other synonyms that should be popularized are “Occupied Palestine” with reference to territories outside of the ’67 borders. Jerusalem should always be referred to as “Occupied Quds”. Moreover, the “illegal settlements” should be called “settler colonies” as that is a more accurate historical description, and will strike a deeper chord with Arab and Muslim viewers, as well as anti-imperialist non-Arabs and non-Muslims, and liberals who reject all forms of racism.  

5. Democracy: This concept has become less of a scientific description of political systems than a moral value or label that western powers use to undermine and isolate nations who refuse to submit to their hegemony. Moreover, the term is almost invariably used to denote one specific form of democracy—liberal democracy—which typifies European and North American democracies that focus on procedural aspects of democracy like elections and constitutional legitimacy. This excludes many other forms of democracy found in other parts of the world which emphasize substantive aspects of democracy like popular participation, national self-determination, economic equality etc.   In order to break the Western liberal monopoly on the term, we should refer to western democracies as liberal democracies to be distinguished from other types such as “Islamic democracy”, “Socialist democracy” etc.

6. Arab Spring: Despite the pervasiveness of this term in both Arab and Western media, it should be avoided on account of its origins and connotations. The concept of a revolutionary “spring” was previously associated with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. The American political journal Foreign Policy later used it in the Arab context as a catchall phrase for uprisings in the Arab world. The term quickly caught on in American policy-making circles and was subsequently wedded to US foreign policy objectives in the Arab world to steer the uprisings towards liberal democracy and US-friendly governments. This was mirrored on the political and intellectual levels by a reprioritization of objectives whereby confronting imperialism and Zionism became secondary to domestic political struggles. Owing to these considerations, and the fact that the term has now become synonymous with Islamist takeovers, civil wars, and US/NATO invasions, it is preferable to adopt the less optimistic and less controversial concept of “Arab Uprisings”

7. Revolution: This term should be used very sparingly as no Arab uprising has come anywhere close to a full-fledged “revolution” in the scientific sense of the term. The most they have achieved is regime change, and in some cases, i.e. Egypt, not even that. Moreover, considering how all of these uprisings have been hijacked by reactionary and conservative Islamist forces, they have effectively become “counter-revolutionary”, if we are to adopt a Marxist or liberal understanding of revolution. Far more appropriate and accurate substitutes are revolt, “rebellion” , “uprising” and “insurgency”.

8. Middle East: The universalized concept of “the Middle East”, which has even found its way into our Arabic vocabulary, needs to be de-naturalized and removed from our lexicon. The problem with this term is its British colonial origins. Seeing itself as the center of the universe or the self-styled geographic “zero-point”, Great Britain referred to countries to its east as the “Near East” or “Middle East”. We are not “Middle Easterners”; we are Arabs. When we start referring to our region as the “Arab world”, we not only normalize a new anti-imperialist discourse, but an anti-Zionist one as well; for while Israel can, in theory at least, be considered part of the Middle East, it can never be part of our Arab world. Alternative terms include “Arab and Islamic world[s]” which covers non-Arab, Islamic countries as well.

9. “Moderation/Moderate” This term should not be adopted in any context as it was coined by the Bush administration to designate regional allies including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and UAE who were juxtaposed with “extremists” like Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Palestinian resistance groups. The term was later used to distinguish US-friendly branches of the Muslim Brotherhood from more “extremist” Salafi and jihadi Islamists. Even sectarian Islamists are labeled “moderates” by the West (Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi was once dubbed a “moderate” by many western observers) if they serve the Empire’s agenda. As such, we should use the term “mainstream” Muslims/Islamists if the aim is to distinguish between groups or movements, while avoiding the concept of “moderation” altogether.

10. Tolerance:  Although this term is used frequently by western liberals to highlight positive qualities like pluralism and diversity which characterize liberal multiculturalism, it actually has hidden discriminatory undertones. To “tolerate” someone or something suggests that it is somehow inferior, deviant or bad, and is being graciously endured by those practicing this tolerance. It s therefore preferable to boast the “openness” of a state or movement vis-à-vis others, or its pursuit of communal, religious, or any other type of  “coexistence” between equals, rather than its mere “toleration” of them.  This is especially the case when discussing coexistence under the Assad government, or in Iran and Lebanon. People in these countries don’t merely “tolerate” Christians, Sunnis etc. they coexist with them and are open to others.

11. Religious minorities: While this seems to be a neutral term devoid of any hidden meanings, in the context of the civil war in Syria and the wider anti-Shia regional campaign, it would be preferable not to highlight the minority/majority binary. Not only does this binary invite accusations of a Shia power grab in Syria and Lebanon etc.,(i.e. minorities usurping majority rights)  the concept of minority denotes identity politics, group exclusivity and  sectarianism overall. The concept of religious community is better suited to describe religious minorities and sects as it doesn’t invoke numerical comparisons and has more harmonious inter-religious overtones.

12. Human rights: There is nothing inherently wrong with invoking arguments of human rights violations, especially when it serves our political agenda, but we should also naturalize a discourse of “people’s rights” which is an entirely different concept of rights. The difference is an important one: “human rights” refer mainly to “negative” individualrights (freedom fromstate interference) and belongs to the western liberal tradition. The West then succeeded in enshrining these rights as a universal value shared by all cultures, even ones which do not share, let alone, prioritize, such values.  “People’s rights” is a concept which arose in the Third World as a reaction to this ethnocentric rights discourse, and called attention to the collective or communal rights that groups, communities and nations are entitled to, such as sovereignty, independence, self-determination and autonomy, which, for anti-imperialist nations, take precedence over individual rights.

13. Terrorism: This is probably the most problematic term for any media as there is no universal definition of what constitutes terrorism. Although policy-makers and officials use the term very selectively to designate their enemies, western media has become much more cautious in its use of the term and often puts quotation marks around it. That is not to say that Resistance media should shun the term, only that it should be careful in its use, especially concerning takfiri groups. A sound approach would be to refer to “terrorist attacks/bombings”, when speaking of violent activities, but to refrain from calling the bombers “terrorists” as this type of labeling has a very strong association with Bush’s “War on Terror”— which essentially targeted the Resistance Axis—and will appear to many as reminiscent of the post- 9/11 Islamophobic political culture which enraged Muslims. Moreover, for the sake of ideological and intellectual consistency, if the term “terrorism” is used with reference to takfiri violence, it should also be used to describe all instances of violence which deliberately target innocent civilians such as US drone strikes and Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so as to avoid conforming to US-Eurocentric definitions of terrorism.

14. Assad: All too often in western media one reads of “Assad’s Alawite sect”, “Assad forces”, “Assad’s army”, the “Assad regime”, or simply to Assad alone as though he were synonymous with Syrian the state, i.e. “Hezbollah has helped turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favour this year.” Whether in the case of the Alawite sect, the Syrian Arab Army, or the Syrian state or government, the purpose behind this practice is to personalize the conflict and reduce all of the above to mere instruments of a “dictator” thereby denying them any sense of agency or institutional role in a post-conflict Syria. Making Bashar al-Assad synonymous with the above, also serves to legitimize violence against Alawites, Syrian soldiers, Syrian government and state infrastructure etc. as they come to be perceived as various incarnations of a single leader. It is therefore imperative that the term “Assad” is not used to preface any other word or to betoken any other idea. Assad should only be used when referring to the person of the Syrian president.

15. Stronghold/heartland: Another widespread practice in western mainstream media is to name Alawite areas in Syria as “Assad’s heartland” or areas controlled by the Syrian government as a “regime stronghold”. This is also the standard norm when describing any Shi’a area of Lebanon as “Hizbullah’s stronghold”.The very sinister usage of this term is evident when areas in Dahyeh or in Syria have been subjected to terrorist bombing, and they are  depicted as “strongholds” of Hizbullah or Assad. Such [mis]labeling conceals the fact that these are heavily populated, residential areas and renders them legitimate objects of violence and destruction.  It also has the effect of sanctioning the punishment of the inhabitants of these areas for supporting Hizbullah/Syrian government. We should therefore shun such terms and restrict ourselves to describing the religious composition of an area if this factor was a principal motive for the bombing, i.e. “Takfiris targeted the predominantly Shia area of Bir Hassan”.

16. Foreign backed: In order to offset western and Arab media’s pervasive use of epithets such as “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” when referring to Hizbullah or other movements, we should refer to the Syrian opposition, the March 14 camp in Lebanon, and others in that category as “Saudi-backed”  (in the case of the al-Qaeda affiliates and takfiris in Syria, as well as March 14) and “NATO/US backed” (in the case of other armed factions in Syria and March 14). This will not only undermine the autonomy these groups like to project, but will also tarnish their image in the region as the majority of Arabs are still ardently anti-American, and very few have favorable perceptions of Saudi Arabia. Wherever possible, the strategic alliances these groups have with the US, Israel, NATO and Gulf monarchies, should be mentioned. While it may be tempting to also dub these groups —especially March 14—as “pro-western” as western media customarily does, it is preferable not to as this alliance is not based on any shared cultural values (some of which are positive) with the West but on a patron-client relationship and political expediency.

17. Hizbullah: We should avoid any of the adjectives and terms used to describe Hizbullah in western media. The gravest of these errors is to refer to its allies as sponsors or backers as this reduces it to a proxy and obscures the fact that it is a significant regional force which has an interdependent relationship with regional allies . Moreover, it should never be introduced as a “Shi’a” movement as this will only further undermine its support among Sunnis, especially given the general sectarian climate in the region which has caused Hizbullah to lose of some of its popular appeal. Finally, Hizbullah should not be referred to as a “party” unless one is discussing its political participation in Lebanese state institutions. Nor should it be downsized to a mere “group” or worse, a “militia” for obvious reasons. The most accurate description is “resistance movement”, “political movement” and “grass-roots movement,” all of which reflect its composition, the scale of its support and its political priorities. 

18. Activist: This is another problematic concept that is mainly used in mainstream western media but which has also found its way into Arab media. The word is a peculiarly western concept as it refers to individuals and groups who belong to civil society and work independently in pursuit of political, social, economic and environmental causes. The activities they engage in are supposed to be non-violent and they are theoretically independent of state control as more often than not, their grievances emanate from government policies or lack thereof. This definition confers activists with an automatic sense of legitimacy, non-partisanship and other positive democratic attributes. However, given the absence of civil society and independent political actors in the Arab context, usage of the term is often misleading particularly when used in the Syrian and Lebanese contexts where the overwhelming majority of “activists” are financially supported by western governments and western NGOs which also rely on political funding. In short, they are hardly independent and often unwittingly serve foreign agendas.

The term is all the more problematic when mainstream western media refers to Syrian opposition supporters as “anti-regime activists”, while calling their counterparts “regime supporters”. This labeling misrepresents the much broader political ambitions of the “regime supporters” who may or may not support the government per se, but are united by a fear for their lives, the territorial integrity of their country, communal coexistence and the state’s secular character, among other concerns . By referring to them to as “regime supporters” they are stripped of agency and a political cause and reduced to sectarian Assad groupies.

The solution is either to refer to supporters from both camps (this applies to Lebanon too) as “activists”, i.e. Syrian government activists, Resistance activists in Lebanon etc. or, to drop the term altogether and label them “opposition supporters”. The term “activist” can then be reserved exclusively for individuals and groups advocating non-partisan goals like civil marriage, environmental causes etc. even if they receive foreign funding.

19. War in Syria: While there can be no denying that there is a war is taking place in Syria and it does possess characteristics of a civil war, referring to it as such suggests that there are two independent sides who have some political or moral parity between them. This terminology distracts the reader or viewer from the proxy nature of this war and obscures the broader imperialist /Gulf Arab onslaught against the Syrian state using local and foreign tools. As such, it remains a war ON Syria and not one between two sides in Syria.

20.  “Spillover” effect, this phrase has become very popular since the crisis began in Syria and is used almost exclusively to refer to violence in Lebanon. The problem with Resistance media’s adoption of this term is that it tacitly acknowledges that the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria, which is a distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. Usage of this term is a huge misnomer which downplays what is essentially an external plot to eliminate political and military resistance forces in the region by replicating the sectarian dynamic in Lebanon. It should therefore not be used in the context of Lebanese violence.

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Fuck any journalist or observer who calls today’s bombing in Dahyeh a “spillover” effect of Syria’s war on Lebanon, as though the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria which would never have occurred otherwise.. This misnomer is a gross distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. It also ignores the targetting of Sunni areas and officials, like Mohammad Chatah last week. This is nothing less than a Saudi-Zionist plot which aims at replicating the Iraqi and Syrian template by sowing sectarian strife in Lebanon, and at eliminating/wearing out the Resistance by opening multiple battle fronts and overextending its security and military forces.

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The following assertion Nasrallah made in today’s speech, probably won’t be reported in mainstream media, but it is extremely important as it is one of the rare occasions when Hizbullah has described the war in Syria in similar language to its war with Israel: “No amount of pressure can change our position on Syria because it is an existential battle for us; I don’t just mean for Hizbullah, but for Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and for the entire resistance project in the region.” 
Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem elaborated on this point last week when he said: “Wherever our resistance is, it is ultimately a resistance to the Israeli enemy, because our enemy fights us directly in some places and it fights us indirectly in others with groups and proxies who either serve its agenda or are controlled without knowing it, which is an even greater calamity.”

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I have been trying to hold back on deconstructing mainstream media reports on Syria and Hizbullah, mainly because it is just too time consuming in light of the constant supply of glaring inaccuracies and fabrications. But this piece in AP today “Car Bomb Hits Hizbullah Stronghold in Lebanon”, was just too much. Excerpts and my commentary below:

"Hezbollah’s participation in the civil war in Syria is highly divisive and unpopular in Lebanon, where many feel it has deviated from its original purpose of fighting Israel and that it has exposed the Shiite community to retaliation."

Note the term “highly unpopular” which falsely indicates that an overwhelming majority of Lebanese oppose Hizbullah’s role in Syria. This connotation is further corroborated by the allusion to Hizbullah’s  Shia supporters as turning away from it: “many feel….it has exposed the Shiite community to retaliation.” The first insinuation is misleading as the same polarization and antipathy towards Hizbullah has been in place since February 2005 in the wake of Hariri’s assassination—a good 8 years before the movement’s participation in the Syrian war. The very same March 14 supporters who decried Hizbullah’s alliance with Syria which was initially blamed for the assassination, continue to oppose it today for siding with the Syrian government and fighting alongside it. Nothing new there. Implying that Hizbullah has lost support among its core Shia constituency is a gross fabrication of reality and even lacks the anecdotal “evidence” mainstream media customarily uses as the basis for its Hizbullah narratives.

My argument is based on easily observed indicators such as the massive turnout for the Ashura commemoration it organized this year, as well as the unprecedented number of secular and non-observant Shia who partook in the event and campaigned for it on social media. As a longtime participant observer of the resistance movement and its supporters, I can confidently say that while Hizbullah has lost Arab Sunni support in the region as whole, it has not suffered any loss of Shia support in Lebanon. In fact, one of the unfortunate consequences of the war on Syria is that the Shia have increasingly come to view themselves as an embattled sect facing an existential threat and have rallied in even greater numbers behind Hizbullah for that reason. Moreover, the notion that the Shia feel Hizbullah has “deviated from its original purpose of fighting Israel” is an outright lie as they do not extricate the Saudi-Takfiri onslaught against the Resistance from the US-Israeli Zionist project to eliminate it; Hizbullah’s constituency is very much aware of the Saudi regime’s open alliance with Israel, and of the direct or indirect collusion between the takfiri fighters and the Zionist enemy, as the bombing of the Iranian embassy and Hassan Lakkis’s assassination demonstrate. The downfall of the Syrian government, the defeat of the Syrian Arab Army and the wholesale destruction of Syria are viewed as serving Israel and furthering the Empire’s divide- and- rule strategy. For Hizbullah’s supporters, the loss of Syria and its government not only poses an existential threat to them personally, but to the Resistance and by extension, the Palestinian cause.  

"The group’s open support of Assad has enraged Sunnis and left it with no shortage of enemies eager to strike at its strongholds and leadership. Dozens of people have been killed in deadly car bombings claimed by radical Sunni groups."

While it is true that Lebanon’s Sunnis are indeed virulently opposed to Hizbullah’s alliance with the Assad government and the Syrian Army, AP’s attempt to translate this public animosity into Sunni militancy against Hizbullah and the Shia in general (note that the concept of the Hizbullah “stronghold” is information warrior shorthand for Shia civilian areas which have been repeatedly targeted) is nothing less than sectarian agitation. As the author admits herself, the bombings have been the work of “radical” not mainstream Sunni groups; asserting that angry Sunnis have left Hizbullah with no shortage of enemies eager to strike at its strongholds and leadership” suggests that Lebanon’s Sunnis are all potential car and suicide bombers.

"Most recently, on Dec. 4, gunmen assassinated a senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan al-Laqees, in the garage of his building in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut. And last month, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, killing 23 people. An al-Qaida-affiliated group claimed responsibility, saying it was payback for Hezbollah’s support of Assad."

This backgrounder is intended to obfuscate Israel’s continued intelligence war on Hizbullah as it completely ignores the Zionist regime’s very obvious culpability in the Lakkis killing and its highly probable collaboration with the Saudis and their jihadi agents  in masterminding the embassy bombing, especially considering it occurred days before the imminent US-Iranian nuclear agreement which both parties were trying to sabotage for months. Also noteworthy is how AP completely ignores the two suicide attacks on Lebanese Army posts in Sidon and Majdalyoun on Sunday night, which, like the Bekaa car/suicide bomb against Hizbullah today, were also carried out by takfiri groups. The failure to contextualize today’s bombing with events that occurred just a day earlier by the same type of perpetrator is not only sloppy journalism or omissive reporting, it is a crude propagandistic attempt to portray takfiri groups in a purely reactive light—  Hizbullah is a target solely because of its participation in the Syrian war. If the reader is reminded of the attacks on the Lebanese Army, which is obviously not party to the Syrian war, then Hizbullah cannot be blamed for terrorist acts committed against it and its supporters. 

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Western and Third World leftists, as well as some of us here in the region, often romanticize governments, movements and individuals in the Resistance Axis. The truth is that our side which represents politically just causes can be grossly unjust on the interpersonal and social levels, in professional settings, in the domestic political arena, and in the economy to name but a few. Our camp is not immune to corruption, crime, violence or even treachery as Hamas has demonstrated all too well. Sometimes it is greed and opportunism which drives some Arabs to sell out to the imperialists and their cronies, but often-times it is disillusionment with our camp for all of the above. In times of such disillusionment and outright disgust with such injustices I remind myself that I am not supporting the Resistance Axis or its constituents per se, but its struggle against imperialism and Zionism. And if Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, and Palestinian groups were to abandon this struggle, then we should abandon them. This is beyond partisanship and ideology; it is identity and being.

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There is a time for analysis and commentary, a time for triumphalism, and a time for just feeling one’s feelings and being human. I saw this photo the other day by the Lebanese photographer, Mimo Khair, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this little girl, Reem, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who lost both her parents in the war. On her hand is written “I love you”….. Nor can I remove the image from my mind, of a Syrian refugee I walked past the other day in Hamra, Beirut. She was a young mother squatting on the pavement, surrounded by her toddlers, almost oblivious to them as she was to her own existence. There are of course hundreds of thousands like her living in squalor all over Lebanon, but this woman broke my heart in particular because she was too downtrodden to beg, too despondent to acknowledge the money she was handed out, too dehumanized to care. The Syrian refugees don’t need our liberal humanitarianism, nor our lefty class solidarity, nor our bourgeois “tolerance” for their presence in our midst. They just need their country back.

There is a time for analysis and commentary, a time for triumphalism, and a time for just feeling one’s feelings and being human. I saw this photo the other day by the Lebanese photographer, Mimo Khair, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this little girl, Reem, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who lost both her parents in the war. On her hand is written “I love you”….. 
Nor can I remove the image from my mind, of a Syrian refugee I walked past the other day in Hamra, Beirut. She was a young mother squatting on the pavement, surrounded by her toddlers, almost oblivious to them as she was to her own existence. There are of course hundreds of thousands like her living in squalor all over Lebanon, but this woman broke my heart in particular because she was too downtrodden to beg, too despondent to acknowledge the money she was handed out, too dehumanized to care. 
The Syrian refugees don’t need our liberal humanitarianism, nor our lefty class solidarity, nor our bourgeois “tolerance” for their presence in our midst. 
They just need their country back.

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