Writer who fled Syria indicts leftist myths amid bombardment in Eastern Ghouta

by WorldTribune Staff, March 5, 2018

Leftists around the globe continue to buy into the Bashar Assad regime’s propaganda in Syria, even after nearly 700 people have died in the regime’s assault on Eastern Ghouta in the last two weeks, a writer who fled Syria said.

“Shelling by rebels killed 64 civilians in February in the whole of Syria, while regime bombardment killed 852,” Loubna Mrie, who fled the country in 2014, wrote in an op-ed for Al Jazeera on March 4. “The regime, too, has arrested, forcibly disappeared, tortured and executed tens of thousands of people.”

Syrian and Russian soldiers at a checkpoint near Wafideen camp in Damascus on March 2. / Reuters

Yet, Mrie wrote, “A great number of Leftists in the West and the East” continue to support Assad’s brutal rule.

Many on the Left, Mrie said, remain “convinced that the regime is fighting Al Qaida in Eastern Ghouta, which is using civilians as human shields – hence the hundreds of dead are not really the regime’s fault.”

“From Australian academic Tim Anderson, who’s claimed that Assad has not been involved in mass killings of civilians and was simply demonized by the imperial West to British and U.S. journalists Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh who have claimed the regime did not use chemical weapons in various attacks on civilians, Leftist public figures continue to believe that the Assad dictatorship is a bastion of anti-imperialism in the region and needs to be supported.”

The writer addressed what she called “two common Leftist myths about what is going on in my country.”

The first myth is that the conflict in Syria is “a regime change plot against a legitimate government.”

Bashar Assad, “came to power in 2000. No, not through elections or even consultations with parties or consensus of community and religious leaders. He simply “inherited the throne” from his father, Hafez, after his death,” Mrie wrote.

“The Syria of my childhood was a repressive police state. I grew up believing that the walls had ears and that you couldn’t criticise the regime, even in your own house. In schools, we were brainwashed daily.”

Mrie continued: “After the brief ‘Damascus spring’ in the early 2000s, where we dared to hope things would change under Bashar, and the subsequent crackdown, we realized he will be just like his father. Only, he turned out to be worse.”

During the Arab Spring in March 2011, Mrie wrote, “when we saw Tunisians and Egyptians rising up and toppling their dictators, we thought we could also demand change. Despite all the institutionalized repression and propaganda, Syrians still took the risk and went out into the streets. People of all walks of life and background joined the protests – Christian, Druze, Muslim, Sunni, Alawite, Ismaili, Palestinians, Circassians, etc, young and old men and women demanded change.

“We knew that the price for change would be high, but we had no idea it would be this high. Protesters were shot dead with live ammunition. I lost many of my friends, I was shot at. I witnessed people getting shot in the back by snipers and the police. People started disappearing en masse, never to come back; some turned up dead after arrests. And it was at that moment that Bashar lost whatever little legitimacy he might have had as a dictator.”

What is happening in Syria, Mrie wrote, “is not a regime change imposed by the West. This is an uprising against an illegitimate dictator. We had and still have every reason to demand change.”

Mrie added: “And we expect international Leftist movements to support us, not ignore or mock us.”

The second myth, Mrie noted, is that “jihadis are hiding in Ghouta and the Syrian regime is fighting them.”

Mrie wrote that “The fact that there are some who took a more radical path in the past seven years, doesn’t mean that everyone who is anti-Assad is also a terrorist.”

In Ghouta “we have armed groups like Jaish-al Islam and Failaq al Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (which has a very small presence, despite what Assad might have you believe) and others – all of which have committed violations and human rights abuses,” Mrie wrote.

“There have been violations by the armed groups, and yes, they have also shelled civilian areas in Damascus. But by looking at the abuses of only one side, you are missing the point: first, the general population in Eastern Ghouta – which suffers the most – is not fighting; two, the regime is killing on a massive scale.”

Mrie continued: “For me, it is unfathomable how people who have stood up for social justice and human rights across the world remain in support of a regime that has exploited its population economically and tortured and killed innocent civilians in the most horrendous ways possible. Or how people who had seen through U.S. imperial war propaganda cannot see through the Russian equivalent of it.”

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