Manipulation of the Syrian analysis

Manipulation of the Syrian analysis

The Syrian crisis has been dominating the headlines for months now. Those who begin to talk about Syria, after a few sentences, move onto subjects such as imperialism, sectarian conflict, terrorism, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Israel. The Syrian crisis in fact supports all these subjects. However, talking about any one of these issues by itself or as a whole picture can help explain the Syrian crisis.

A simple benchmark can help us evaluate the seriousness of the myriad of analysis and comments on the Syrian crisis. Analyses of the Syrian crisis that perceive the Baath regime as if it was but a detail in the Syrian crisis are all manifestations of ‘talking about Syria without really speaking about Syria’ syndrome. Minimizing the Baath regime’s role in analyses of the Syrian crisis is not unlike trying to explain the situation in post invasion Iraq via Al Qaida, disregarding the United States’ role. Titles such as “The Baath Regime,” “Assad,” “Hamas,” “Hezbollah,” “Russia” and “Iran” are among the titles one is least likely to find in the Syrian analyses shaped by the naïve leftist discourse. The titles one can expect to find in the analyses of the Syrian crisis in this discourse are “Al Qaida,” “Sectarian Conflict,” “The axis of resistance against Israel,” “Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” “American imperialism” and “Turkey.”

Another approach to the analysis of the Syrian crisis is to acknowledge the massacres committed by the Assad regime, but in the end, to own up the analyses mentioned above. This approach does not attach any meaning to the Syrian crisis beyond being “a big conspiracy” even if it talks about Assad’s atrocities. The first approach to analyzing the Syrian crisis then is talking about the atrocities committed in Syria as if they were the result of a natural disaster without mentioning Assad or the Baath regime. The second approach can be summarized as “Had the opposition not armed itself, Assad would not commit massacre.” A careful examination of the media will reveal these two approaches to the Syrian crisis.

The final approach to analyzing the situation uses what I call, the Fiskian approach, as it was invented by Robert Fisk. This approach is rather effective in leaving us with more questions than we began with and offers one the chance to hide safely behind a ‘leftist-liberal-objective’ perspective. Despite having rather shallow levels of knowledge and analytical skills, with their constant references to historical context and recent events, analyses in this approach appear to have a wider perspective and access to a rich background. For instance, the article you began to read on “Syrian crisis and Turkey” may end up with Al Qaida, the Armenian question, French colonialism, disbanding of the Ottoman, the Kurdish question, ‘massacres’ committed by the opposition and the Antioch question of the 1930s. In the end, while you are busy thinking how complicated and dangerous the Syrian crisis actually is the Baath regime’s role in the crisis has fallen between the cracks.

In sum, my humble suggestion is this: in order understand the Syrian uprisings and crisis it would be best to pay attention to what is actually going on in Syria. Indeed, not everything you read nowadays under the title of “Syrian analysis” is what it claims to be!