Qunfuz

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Thank You So Much

with 2 comments

A message from the father of the murdered nine-year-old Ibrahim Shayban to Russia, China and Bashaar al-Asad.

The Russian and Chinese vetoes to protect the Syrian regime from UN Security Council condemnation are reminiscent of all those American vetoes to protect Israel. Both countries have their reasons for shielding the Syrian regime: Russia’s naval base at Tartus, discomfort over the way the Libya No Fly Zone slipped into more overt intervention, the fear that UN condemnation may one day focus on Russian abuses in Chechnya and Chinese abuses in Tibet and Xinjiang. But both countries should consider their own interests more creatively. Ultimately, their influence in Syria and the wider region will depend on their image in Syrian and Arab eyes. The Syrian regime will not be there for ever. The Syrian people will.

Iran is another state which has repeatedly shot itself in the foot since the Arab revolutions began, first by mischaracterising as Islamic uprisings the deposings of Mubarak, Bin Ali and Qaddafi, then by opposing the revolution which seems most similar to Iran’s in 79 – the Syrian revolution. Iran used to be popular in Syria even amongst many sectarian-minded Sunni Muslims. It used to be popular in the wider Arab region. This popularity was Iran’s best guarantee against marginalisation and even military attack from the region’s pro-Western forces. But its popularity has evaporated this year.

Back to Ibrahim. He was martyred while leaving a mosque in the Qaboon suburb of Damascus. His funeral was held today in Meydan, in the heart of the city. Here’s some footage. Apparently insecurity forces killed two of the mourners when they came out of the mosque into the street.

Commentators have been telling us that central Damascus remains quiet. It’s true that many areas have been quiet, either because the upper middle class inhabitants still support the regime or are sitting on the fence, or because of the overbearing police and mukhabarat presence on the streets. Damascus has certainly not slipped out of regime control, as Homs, Hama, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib sometimes have. Yet Damascus has been bubbling for a long time. Pro-regime commentators will say that Kafar Souseh (which has demonstrated frequently since Shaikh Rifa’i of the Rifa’i mosque was shot) is a suburb, not the city itself – which is true, if Camden Town isn’t part of London. Suburbs further out – like Harasta, Douma, Muadamiya – have been veritable war zones for months. Imagine if Streatham, Hackney, Tottenham and Ealing were in a state of war and commentators told us ‘London remains quiet.’ And Meydan and Rukn ad-Deen have witnessed frequent, large demonstrations, and savage repression. These places are as central as Chelsea and Kensington. Smaller, briefer demonstrations have occurred in high-class Malki, in Sha‘alaan, Shaikh Muhiyudeen, Baghdad Street, Muhajireen. You can’t get more central. The last place is within earshot of Bashaar al-Asad’s house. If the quietness of Damascus reassures the regime, I think they’d better start panicking.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

October 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Iran, Syria

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. You write the kind of straightforward post full of truths that some find unpalatable. The worst thing about the Syrian Revolution (beside wholesale death and repression) is the cognitive breach between the world as it actually is, and the stale Baathi sloganeering of the regimists. There is no single story that is not subject to avoidance, denial, aversion, blindness and self-delusion.

    Thank you for doing this kind of work. It is much appreciated.

    Bill Scherk

    October 18, 2011 at 12:03 am

  2. Robin

    Nothing to do with this, but I got some obvious junk mail via your account, as if from you.

    When I try to email you to tell you, I am not allowed to: basically, I can’t email you. From any server or email acocunt.

    Odd, and I am not sure whether more sinister for me or for you.

    David

    davidderrick

    October 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm


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