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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mass Graves--Stepping Stones to Greater Syria

I have a friend who, in most cases quite correctly, has stated that the first person to resort to name-calling in an argument loses. As the Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor, he has little patience with those who trivialize his father's experience by calling everyone they disagree with a "Nazi."

He has a point.

But there is a time when the N-word is appropriate.

Today's as yet unconfirmed news is that Bashar al-Assad, Ba'athist dictator of Syria, has quelled dissent in his country not only through mass arrests of protestors, indiscriminate shelling of towns, opening fire on civilian crowds, gunning down women who opened their front doors to security agents, and rape, but has now added mass graves to his tool-kit of oppression.

Why not? The world continues to give him legitimacy despite the rising death toll of Syrians. The Russians protect him as a quasi-client state; the U.S. has apparently decided to maintain an ambassadorial presence there despite Assad's multiple pogroms in multiple Syrian cities and villages. The EU and NATO are otherwise occupied holding on to Libyan oil and bank bailouts.

Why not? It worked for Saddam Hussein, who is famed for his genocide against the Kurds of Iraq (see "Halabja") who refused to change their names, their language, their history, and their aspirations for autonomy by "Arabizing" under Saddam's reign of terror. Ask the Iraqi Arab parents of a third grade class which vanished one day, after one prankster wrote "Down with Saddam" on the class blackboard when the teacher stepped out. The mass grave of these eight-year-olds was later uncovered by Coalition forces.

Why not? Bashar's father, the leader of a military coup in 1961, maintained his Ba'athist secular party's grip on power by slaughtering 40,000 residents of Hama, a Sunni town opposed to the Alawite-controlled Ba'athist government. The rancor between the Muslim Brotherhood representing Sunni interests and Hafez al-Assad's Alawite-controlled Ba'athists had festered from 1940 until 1982, when decades of guerrilla tactics by Sunnis erupted into full-scale revolt following al-Assad's execution of 1200 Sunni prisoners.

The world took no notice of Hama.

The world ignored Halabja.

The world ignored the killing fields of Ba'athist Iraq and Syria for decades.

The world is a dunce.

The Ba'athists are the closest living political relatives to the German Nazis around. They are allied with Iran not because they share a fundamentalist Islamic world view--they don't.

What they do share is a virulent desire to bring the Middle East under their governance. Syria wants an all-Levant Ba'athist Arab future; Iran wants a Shi'ite Moslem Caliphate. The Syrian Ba'athists, albeit a nominally secular political party, are Alawites, a Shi'ite minority believed to be "heretics" by their Sunni majority population. What more natural ally than another Shi'ite nation, Iran, which shares a desire for Moslem hegemony in the Middle East, free of such decadent Western imports such as democracy, equal rights, free press, enfranchised women, birth control, and so forth?

Syria has never abandoned it's dream of "Greater Syria" formulated during and after World War I.

"Within the Levant, Syrian Baathists find Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian autonomy barely tolerable. From the late Ottoman period onward, Syrian Arab nationalists have viewed Lebanon and Palestine as part of a Bilad ash-sham (Greater Syria). Syrian leaders considered the western side of the Fertile Crescent to be the Syrian backyard and Damascus, the region's rightful political center." (Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2005)

In 1920, the majority of the Arab population in the Levant, freed finally from Ottoman Turkish rule after World War I, identified as "Syrian." The post-war subdivision of the Levant by British and French allied victors in 1923 was decried as the "First Naqba" or catastrophe by Levantine Arab populations, who saw this carving up of the region as an impediment to Arab national expression. The Arab residents of that section of the Levant called "Mandatory Palestine," a name coined by Protestant British rulers, took to the streets in riotous protest at what they saw as the false, European-created suggestion that Palestinian Arabs constituted a separate ethnic nationality from the rest of Syria.

The term "Naqba" or "Catastrophe" was originally coined not because of Israel or "Palestinian" nationalism but because Arabs living in Palestine regarded themselves as Syrian, and were enraged at being cut off from their Syrian homeland. Palestinian Arabs saw themselves as Syrians and were seen as such by other Syrians.

The chronicler of this "Naqba" was none other than an Arab historian, George Antonius,a man of Lebanese-Egyptian origin who lived in Jerusalem for a short period (and hence is called "Palestinian" although he wasn't) at the mansion of Nazi-allied and paid for stooge, Haj Amin el-Husseini.

In his seminal work, The Arab Awakening, Antonius wrote, "The year 1920 has an evil name in Arab annals: it is referred to as the Year of the Catastrophe (Am al-Nakba). It saw the first armed risings that occurred in protest against the post-War settlement imposed by the Allies on the Arab countries."

What does this have to do with mass graves today?

The Syrian regime is the heir to Vichy France's pro-Nazi occupation, home to fled Nazis, inculcated with Nazi nationalist ideology, convinced of Arab ethnic superiority (hence it's hatred of Jews, Kurds and other non-Arabs) and equally convinced of its "right" to take back its "historic homeland" of Greater Syria.

Look at the map of Greater Syria. It divides the Levant into Greater Syria and Iran. Together they wish to control the Middle East, its resources, its people and impose their Shi'ite nationalism on the entire region. This is why Syria occupied Lebanon and oppressed non-Shi'ites; this is why Syria invaded Jordan; this is why Syria connives at war both open and covert against Israel.

And this is why there are mass graves in Daraa. A totalitarian racist Nazi-like regime intent on "Lebensraum" does not brook dissent. A totalitarian racist Nazi-inspired regime intent on conquest of its neighboring countries does not permit democratic expression. A Nazi regime slaughters its opponents, both domestic and foreign to further the goal of Greater Syria.

There are stark moments in time when to refrain from identifying a brutal totalitarian war-mongering regime bent on conquest as "Nazi" is to side-step the ugly truth.


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