(di Ziad Majed*). Notwithstanding over 15,000 dead, tens of thousands of testimonials, text and visual evidence of the carnage inflicted by the Syrian regime on citizens denied their political freedoms by one father, his son and their next of kin, some Arab and Lebanese “recalcitrant” leftists have yet to cease and desist from defending the Damascus regime.
Having dwelled at first on “imperialist” schemes and conspiracies targeting the “recalcitrance” (Moumana’a), countered concern over the Syrian question with one over Saudi Arabia’s, opposed the horrors of Damascus prisons to Guantanamo, and compared republican dynasty to monarchy, they moved on to apprehensions about Islamists and Salafists, building on the widely anticipated outcome of Tunisian and Egyptian elections to project a similar path for Syria.
Not to pick on the over-simplistic world affairs’ perspective of such leftists, or deconstruct the justifications they built on lurid analogies and their reflection on their character, and not to remind them of the evident distinction between the devolution of power inherent to republican systems and its counterpart in a monarchy (be it democratic or otherwise), it helps to review the three paradoxes that underpin their assertions.
The first paradox – the ethical factor – exposes their implicit acknowledgement of the Syrian regime’s barbarity, and the invocation of allegedly similar conduct to justify it. In this fashion, deploring the killing of Syrian children becomes uncalled for, as long as other children perish in Ghaza, Iraq or Afghanistan. The campaign for the release of someone like Mazen Darwish, journalist and legal activist, is likewise denounced on the grounds that political prisoners are held by Israel too, as if one campaign negated the other. Thus, so called leftists wander away from the realm of politics and lose their moral compass, as they fail to respect human freedom and dignity in all places and instances.
The second paradox – the cultural factor – holds democracy, freedom and human rights as suspect and without merit, tainted as they are by their “Western” nature and their association with the “colonial” West (pursuing nefarious interests). It comes therefore as no surprise that these leftists look up to regimes such as the Chinese, North Korean, Russian, Iranian and Sudanese ones, since they all share a deep-seated contempt for “liberal” values, while these regimes either renounced the socialist economic model (China and Russia), disparaged it since their inception (Iran and Sudan), or would not fit any ideology known to mankind (north Korea.)
The third paradox, – the psychological one – or rather a subliminally sectarian one – lies mainly in Sunni-phobia, directed against a perceived threat from the majority group. It is disingenuously expressed as apprehension of salafism and obscurantism, at a time where “recalcitrant” leftists exhibit no such apprehensions towards the overbearing Iranian Islamic Republic. They fail to convince too, when claiming that support for Tehran is confined to its hostility towards the US and Israel, when one recalls that Jihadi Sunni Salafism fought the US in Iraq far more vigorously in the span of a few years than did Iran and its allies over decades. Last but not least, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hizbollah, is by no means less fundamentalist than the shades of Muslim brotherhood they revile. It is therefore all too clear that leftists’ motives have little to do with “secularism” and “resistance” and draw mostly on sectarian minority impulses.
The preceding paradoxes demonstrate that duplicity and sectarianism are the defining characteristics of many leftist defenders of Assad’s dictatorship and its cruelty. An aversion towards freedoms and addiction to totalitarianism define their approach to events and makes for common grounds between them and certain religious movements and tyrannical regimes.