Western Failure to Support the Real Freedom Fighters in the Middle East Is A Disgrace

By Barry Rubin

Anthony Shadid, the New York Times' pro-Islamist correspondent, writes an article on the "resignation" of Rami Makhlouf from the Syrian regime without finding him involved in any actual corruption. This is like writing an article on former Rep. Anthony Weiner and mentioning in one sentence that some claim he uses social media. It's easy to provide a detailed account of Makhlouf's depredations but here he emerges as a sort of sympathetic figure, his resignation as proof that the Asad dictatorship is listening to the masses.

But there's nothing funny about events in Syria. Recently, a Syrian dissident friend wrote me, "People are being massacred and nobody cares a damn." In a real sense, it is tragic that he's right. Yes, the Obama Administration is now saying "tough" things about the Syrian regime and putting on the minimum sanctions, but in the face of mass shootings and torture, it amounts to nothing. Compare this to the media and administration outrage against Israel, or the demand for the immediate resignation of Egyptian President Husni Mubarak for far fewer crimes and in the face of a much less significant uprising.

I'm certainly not advocating military intervention but why is that happening in Libya to help an opposition that is largely Islamist and commits its own atrocities compared to the official indifference--yes, that's what it is despite the cosmetic government statements--toward those who really deserve support. And leaving aside humanitarian considerations, why no support for those who are relatively friendly to the West compared to the succor given to its enemies? That's wrong in both moral and realpolitik terms.

Is there going to be any support demonstration for the Syrian uprising (or for the Iranian opposition, or against repression in Turkey, or in support of the moderate opposition in Lebanon) in any European or North American country in which people participate who aren't from those countries? Is there going to be a single teach-in or meeting on a single college campus anywhere? Doesn't anyone else see how amazingly tragic a situation is that when people seek real democracy the West is indifferent but when radical forces seek to establish dictatorships or even use terrorism they receive support and encouragement from flotillas to sanctions' movements to demonstration from the West?

I do note that the EU is gradually increasing sanctions on Syria.

It is hard to determine precisely what's happening in Syria but below I have posted a small sample of the materials available. I feel like someone watching the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or the Polish and Slovak national risings during World War Two, or the Hungarian uprising of 1956 or that in Czechoslovakia in 1968 as freedom fighters are murdered.

Idlib / Saraqib: the city comes under heavy fire at night, as fire rages in several locations. “Saraqib is on fire, save the people,” the cameraman says.

Idlib / Kafar Nabol: residents take to the streets in support of Jisr Ashoughour and against planned army incursion in their midst

Idlib / Mouarrat Al-Nouman: tanks lay siege to Mouarrat

Homs / Assad militias practice collective torture: they leave detained protesters in the sun for hours to induce thirst, then, they make them chant “God, Syria, Bashar” to get a sip of water.

Alboukamal: after days of media silence, we finally get this video from Alboukamal. It seems that residents can still take to the streets and protest, despite presence of army tanks around the city and in certain neighborhoods, as they hold this vigil in preparation for Friday’s protests.

Aleppo University: “the people want to topple the regime” “Leave, leave”

Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: a funeral for an activist who died under torture

Homs / Al-Qousour: Assad militias terrorizing local residents

Damascus / Douma: an all-women protest “the people want to topple the regime”

“Leave, Leave.” Banner: “the people want to try the children-killers”

“Peaceful, Peaceful, Freedom, Freedom”

Damascus / Mouaddamiyyah: protesters responding to the resignation of Rami Makhlouf: “It is what it is (i.e. nothing has changed), down with Baath Rule.” “We don’t love you, leave us and take your party with you”

Protester tells crowd that Dunia TV says that the people of Mouaddamiyyeh are asking for army intervention, people burst out saying: “Syrian Media lie”

Damascus / Kafar Sousseh: “the people want to topple the regime”

Damascus / Qatana: anti-Assad vigil

Damascus / Darayyah: anti-Assad vigil

Damascus / Qaboun: anti-Assad vigil

Damascus / Al-Tall: anti-Assad vigil

Homs: protester preparing banners for Friday’s protests: “Congratulations to the Turkish people with the victory of Mr. Erdogan” “UN, Arab League, what’s your position on the mass murders taking place?” “Syria from North to South cry out: Leave, Leave” “Bashar’s reforms: shelling, forced relocation, siege, humiliation, insult, destruction” “O honest grandchildren of Saleh Al-Ali, you are our brothers and partners in this homeland”

Homs / Al-Qarabees: Banner “the people want to topple the regime”

Deir Ezzor / Qouriyyah: “Bashar listen, we only kneel before our Lord”

Hama City: Tanks make their appearance at the city

Hama City: protesters shout “the people want to topple the regime” as one of them pretends to fire at them using a toy assault rifle!

Deraa / Al-Mseifrah: Mother of the martyred child Thamer Al-Sharyee recounts the story of his death to an audience of women protesters. She also addresses the regime and says “your message has reached us, and you will be hearing our answer”

Deraa City: “the people want to topple the regime”

Deraa: troops on the way to Damascus

Raqqah: a woman activist surrounded by colleagues addresses the camera and says that they will be joining the protests tomorrow in solidarity with womenfolk all over Syria who are being abused by Assad thugs: “the people want to topple the regime.”

Banyas: anti-Assad vigil