Sunday, August 28, 2011

Against The Conventional Wisdom: On To Damascus.

Mohammad Rahhal, leader of the Revolutionary Council of the Syrian Coordination Committees, announced today that the SCC has decided that Syria's non-violent uprising must now turned to armed struggle.

"We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising," he told the London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. "We will use whatever, arms and rocks. . . we will respond to the people's calls to arm the revolution. Confronting this monster now requires arms, especially after it has become clear to everyone that the world only supports the Syrian uprising through speeches."

The conspiracy to which Rahhal refers appears to be the Tehran-sponsored effort to hijack the Syrian uprising in the interests of the Baathist regime. A counter-revolutionary grouping calling itself the Syrian National Council was established in Istanbul last week that Rahhal calls "ghosts. . . who have nothing to do with the revolution.” Further: "We do not want to get rid of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad’s crimes to be stuck with the dictatorship of [Turkish Prime Minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan who conspires on the Arab cause to serve his own interests.”

UPDATE: It gets more complicated. The Syrian Local Coordination Committees say that for now, at least, non-violence remains the means: "Militarization would put the Revolution in an arena where the regime has a distinct advantage, and would erode the moral superiority that has characterized the Revolution since its beginning." In the streets, meanwhile, protestors are beginning to clamour for military intervention, CNN reports, and there are signs that the opposition's grassroots are getting fed up with the growing numbers of Syrian dead.

What, then, to do? Are there lessons from Libya that we should immediately apply to the cause of overthrowing the tyranny in Damascus?

From a decent left-wing perspective, Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer's chief political columnist, writes:

"There are lessons that appear sound. There are lessons that sound attractive, but turn out on closer inspection to be dangerously wrong. One lesson – a rather familiar tutorial this – is that conventional wisdom is often wrong. We were told that it would be impossible to get a UN resolution – and one was secured. We were told that Arab support would not stay solid – and, by and large, it did. We were told, as recently as 10 days ago, that the campaign was stuck in a stalemate which exposed the folly of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in pursuing the enterprise. So much for the wisdom of the conventional. Another lesson is that sometimes there really is no alternative to decisive military action by outside powers to prevent a tyrant from unleashing atrocities."

From a decent right-wing perspective, Janet Daley, of the Telegraph, writes:

"The West must not funk this. If it does, it will not only put itself on the wrong side of history, but it will be cast forever in an unforgivable role: the observer of evil who stood by and did nothing. This is not just idealism talking: it is stark realism. It is more important than ever now that we do not lose our moral credibility. In a global power struggle with religious fundamentalists, the damage to our case would be incalculable. We cannot consign whole countries to the Middle Ages for the sake of a quiet life: as well as being wicked, it would not work. People everywhere know too much about the modern world and how it is possible to live. They will not willingly step back into the darkness."

Come from the shadows. On to Damascus. Long live the revolution.


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