The world press is more or less toeing the Western countries line that the Syrian government is the evil one. The “peaceful spring” that apparently began the process of destabilising Syria, however, soon turned into armed uprising with evidence of foreign influence from Middle East and Western countries alike.
There is no doubt that many people in Syria have felt oppressed for a long time, and that the Assad regime has decided to fight the uprising tooth and nail, with whatever lethal force it has at hand. The question is whether the other side will be prepared to get anything less than regime change, and we have seen (and so has Assad) what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Kaddafi after such goal was achieved in their countries.
Perhaps it is worth repeating here a previously reported declaration by retired US General Wesley Clark, referring to a memo from the then Secretary of Defence (Donald Rumsfeld) office shortly after 9/11: “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” That was during Neocon full blown control of power, but in spite of regime change in the US, it appears that their influence has not diminished all that much.
A more or less comprehensive and, as expected, thoroughly confusing and not necessarily even handed picture of the history of the conflict and its players can be found in [Wikipedia]( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Syrian_uprising), unless of course it gets changed again by any of the factions involved. Too long to repeat here; let’s just say it takes two (in this case lots more) to tango. Somehow it fails to report that foreign troops were amassing on the Syrian border in December in a Jordanian military base and have been giving “tactical help and training” to the rebels, but also that Russia and Iran are ready to assist the Assad regime with troops.
Full marks to Kofi Annan for trying to step into the hornet’s nest with some peace proposal, at least he is talking to both factions, not demonising one as evil and justifying armed intervention to defend “peaceful demonstrators”.
So, what are the peaceful demonstrators thinking; those that spearheaded the protests in Syria, and let’s say also the ones in Egypt, only to play into the hands of mighty forces waiting for opportunities to make a grab for power? And, is this really how it happened? Or from the start the enemies of the Syrian regime presented the initial nonviolent protest as part of the “Arab spring” but already getting their itchy fingers close to the triggers?
How can nonviolent activists in any part of the world begin a process of change in an oppressive situation without unleashing the hatred, the resentment, the compulsion for power that such oppression creates?
I believe the key word is Reconciliation. It is a work that has to be started as early as possible in any conflict. Gandhi recommended it, Martin Luther King spoke of Conflict Reconciliation, South Africa managed to emerge from its tremendous risk of a blood bath with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Aung San Suu Kyi is calling for National Reconciliation and Silo offered tools for Reconciliation with oneself and others elevating it to a profound spiritual experience.
Those in government may or may not accept reconciliation but this work has to be done with ordinary people, everywhere, because we do not know where and when the next crazed power mad self-appointed leader will point the finger to say: “that’s your enemy, fight them!”.
Communities in exile that are fighting in conflict areas need to work on reconciliation and then take it to their countries. Reconciliation is the only thing that can stop the war in Syria. Some Israelis and Iranians are setting up facebook groups to say “we love you”, nothing can stop this madness but a worldwide chain reaction of Reconciliation. It all starts by accepting that there are no “baddies”, this is not a Hollywood film where the villain has to be given their well deserved punishment; this is real life, with real people, each one defending themselves from what they have come to regard as a threat to themselves and their loved ones. Fear dominates politics; manipulation through fear makes political careers, feeds arms dealers and kills innocent people.
Courage at this point in time means to avoid taking sides between violent factions and to go out to create reconciliation, wherever we are, in whichever way we can. We have the tools, we need the will.