Friday, March 16, 2012

Pro-regime demonstrators in Syria

When Western governments and media decide that a group or a regime is bad or "terrorist" they then make an effort to deny that such a regime or group can't be liked by anyone.  They do that regularly with the Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and they did that--people forget that--with the PLO.  People forget that into the 1980s when I came to the US, there were articles in the New York Times denying that the Palestinian people supported the PLO.  They are doing the same with the Syrian regime (although the analogy stops here because support for the PLO among Palestinians was universal and uniform while support for the Syrian regime is more limited obviously): Western media just don't want to admit that the regime had any bases of social support.  Yet, the pictures and video images yesterday from Syria (on more than one TV channel (but not on Saudi and Qatari media or in Western media) were clear: hundreds of thousands of Syrians turned out in Damascus, Aleppo, and Suwayda' etc.  Those massive demonstrations are--whether one likes it or not--bigger than any of the Youtube demonstrations that we see against the regime.  One Syrian opposition website (Al-Haqiqah) had it right: that people are less pro-regime and more anti-opposition although there are some who are pro-regime.  There are Syrians in the US (young and old) who do support the regime just as there are many who oppose the regime.  Why is that difficult to admit: I hate the guts of the Saudi regime but I can't deny that there are many in Saudi Arabia who support the government of the House of Saud.  It is a fact, damn it.  Yet, whenever that many Syrians turn out in support for the regime, Western (and Saudi--they are on the same page now, and I find that hilarious and amusing) media struggle to give silly explanations. They say that they were forced to show up: shu they were forced?  If they can force people to demonstrate, why don't they force them to show up in Dir'ah or in Homs? Why do they not do that in rural areas?  Is that not a sign that the regime is strong in certain big urban centers?  New York Times has a trick on those occasions: they always find one person who is `Alawite to send a silly sectarian message.  I read this this morning in the Times:  "In the crowd, a 25-year-old man, the son of an army officer, explained why he had come: “To show to the world that President Assad is our leader forever.”"  I was surprised.  I thought it is weird that they interview a supporter of the regime who is not `Alawite.  Yet, later in the article he was identified as `Alawite.  Typical.  It is not that they are demonstrating: if you bother to see Syrian regime TV you see them enthusiastic and you see many women who are veiled (`Alawite and Druze women don't veil): many talk on camera and they in no way seem forced.  And those demonstrations happen regularly and frequently so the point about Teachers' Day is just too dumb (but good enough a point to be made for the New York Times).

PS Incidentally, there are pro-regime demonstrations that are held outside of Syria.  There was one in Belgium and one in Spain this week.  Also, opposition folks in Michigan told me that there was a pro-regime demonstration in Michigan.  Were they forced by the regime too?