Why does it have to get so awkward, extremely painful and messy in Syria and the Middle-East? Are the Syrians turning into barbarians? In each discussion with people in the West this comes up, as though it is something having mainly to do with the Arabs themselves and their tribal nature. In other words as a social psychologist I observe we prefer to alienate ourselves from Syria: ‘We in the West would never ‘do’ such a thing to each other.’ Not only do we seem to have forgotten about our own bloody history of transformation but make no mistake the West has his own ‘hidden’ agenda in the Middle-East. Certain happenings are not a coincidence. Pandora’s Box has opened and devastating things appear.
The hopeful wave of enlightenment flowing through the Arab world, moving from Arabic spring into winter has unavoidable phases in a process of change that are unsettling and upsetting to say the least. The Room of Listening observes that citizens from East and West share the same feelings of frustration not being able to turn the wheel in a positive direction in order to prevent history from repeating itself.
And yet ‘nothing is like it seems’. There are at the same time a lot of hopeful initiatives going on as you can read in previous posts. Father Light and the Syrian Sheikh both working around the clock to support all with one starting point: ‘We are one.’ Or as a lot of the people say here in Jordan: ‘My name is Syria.’ It is important to shed light on these movements as these are not only true sources of resilience and transformation but they are present, alive and kicking in the energetic Arabic society, in Bilad as-Sham: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. The key for change and a source of hope.
Looking at Syria it seems necessary to explain the complexity of the situation once more. We cannot keep turning a blind eye. Why is the case Syria so complicated? Because (geo)politics are at play at three levels: local, regional and international. Many famous writers have reported their brilliant insights into Syria over the past years. In case you want to refresh your mind I mention a few of them like Robert Fisk or a recent European publication ECFR, Patrick Cockburn, Fouad Ajami, Thomas Friedman.
1. Local: Assad Government versus a diverse Syrian opposition.
2. Regional: Sunni versus Shia – compare with the European Catholic vs. Protestant divide. Saudi Arabia and Qatar both Sunni states are fighting the ruling Shia government in Syria (Alawites are Shiites) and their Shiite partners Hezbollah and Iran. The fact that the majority of the Syrians are Sunni gave the regional Sunnites the legitimation to start interfering and trying to over throw the Syrian Shia government, bringing in fundamentalist factions like Jabhet al Nusra. Their presence acts like a magnet for other fundamentalist fighters from all over the world.
3. International: USA, Europe and Turkey want to break Iran’s power and therefore support Saudi-Arabia and Qatar delivering weapons via the NATO to the opposition. In reality fundamentalistic fighters lay their hands on the weapons. On the other side of the international spectrum there are Russia and China who are still supporting Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.
Villages at the Euphrates River like Racqqa are now fighting the establishment of Jabhet Al Nusra there. Liberal Syrians are thrown back into the middle ages and women have to cover up completely. ‘This is not Syria but Saudi Arabia here, are they the ones to bring democracy here?!’ Syrians are crying out loud. Meanwhile the Saudi Arabians buy young Syrian ‘brides’ in the refugee camps like Zaatari.
Syria is a like trying to sail a ship with too many captains on it or as they say here: Kullon rous ma sh’Allah. The great Syrian mosaic of people, Muslims both Sunni and Shiia, Christians, Druze, Bedouins and many other groups pay the highest price imaginable. The world is watching while the tragedy unfolds. It is about time to start watering the Syrian desert in order for more tulips to start growing.