Metamorphosis of the Syrian Uprising: Another Gulf Hijacking of an Arab Cause……………


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                                Neck of the woods

“According to a new report, the presence of Salafi groups among Syria’s armed opposition is an irrefutable and damaging trend. In this interview with Kersten Knipp, Peter Harling talks about why the makeup and character of Syria’s opposition has changed………There again that option was a failure, and gradually the opposition moved towards an ever more religious and fundamentalist narrative and also towards increasingly violent tactics of their own. We had some large bombings for instance causing considerable casualties among civilians. In some urban areas we’ve had kidnappings and other kinds of criminal activity cloaked as opposition to the regime. Gradually I think the evolution of the opposition was very much a result of how the regime responded to the initial challenge that the uprising posed. That evolution has been self-reinforcing. The more Islamist, the more thuggish the opposition became, the fewer people were willing to support it. In fact, in some places its base of support has narrowed to those people who have been subjected to such forms of violence on the part of the regime, that will support anyone fighting it………………….”

Unfortunately the bitter fact is that the Syrian uprising was undone by the people who claimed to support it the most. Once money and volunteers started flowing from the Persian Gulf GCC states into Syria early last year, I knew the cause was doomed. Nothing kills revolution more effectively than infiltration of  counter-revolutionary forces.
I know the Gulf, its potentates and its Salafis: whatever they are, they are not supporters of freedom or tolerance or democracy. At the forefront were the Salafis, Muslim Brothers, and other Jihadists. In addition to the absolute tribal petroleum monarchs whose main goal was (is) to change regional strategic alliances rather than free the Syrian people from a decades-long dictatorship. Which made sense from their perspective: all they wanted, all they want, these potentates on my native Gulf, is to hand the Iranian mullahs a defeat, restructure Lebanon, and recreate a new Syria in their own undemocratic image. A repressive Syria minus the fake socialist or revolutionary pretensions of the Ba’ath Party. They want a Syria that is like Yemen or Jordan or Bahrain, with phony pretensions to democracy. A Syria that is hungry enough for their money to toe the line.

I think I just shocked myself. I said a moment ago that “whatever they are, they are not supporters of freedom or tolerance or democracy”. I meant many on my Gulf, but you know something? This also applies to almost every major Western government. Just look at the record in our region: from Damascus to Riyadh to Manama and Doha and Abu Dhabi. As an example, Mr. David Cameron visited the region this week, peddling democracy and freedom in the Gulf region, but only for Syria. Not democracy and freedom for the peoples of the countries he is visiting, not for the peoples of the Gulf or the Arabian Peninsula. Those, the rest of us, can always buy more expensive weapons systems, with all the attendant bribes, as a substitute for freedom and democracy.

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