The Most Unpopular Arab Uprising

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Certainly, Tunisia and Egypt have been the most popular Arab uprisings at the pan-Arab level. Certainly, the momentum of the counter-revolution has dashed the enthusiasm and excitement that followed the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali. But Arab excitement and optimism gradually gave way to caution, pessimism, and dismay.

The US (and its clients in the region) was not going to allow the Arabs to have a historical chance at charting their own destiny for the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The eruption of Arab uprisings allowed Arabs to enter what has been called in a famous group song, the “Arab dream”: the dream of Arab unification and restoration of Palestinian rights in their homeland.

But things quickly shifted. The Egyptian uprising never materialized into a full-blown revolution: and Mubarak’s hand-picked generals still ruled the day and cooperated with the US and Israel in secret, while receiving cash payment from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In Tunisia, a new government was set up but it did not seem to dramatically shift the domestic and foreign polices of Ben Ali. But Libya was the watershed: Arabs watched as NATO – of all outside parties – stole a genuine Arab uprising and surrendered to an odd mix of Gaddafi’s proteges and Islamist fanatics (and some with al-Qaeda sympathies if not links).

It was at the Libya juncture that Arabs ceased to express excitement and solidarity with their brethren. They felt that matters were no longer in their own hands. The dream was interrupted with the first drop of NATO bombs.

Syria was a different story altogether. The exile Syrian opposition reminded Arabs too well of its Iraqi equivalent before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Syrian National Council seemed like a replica of the Iraqi National Council, and Burhan Ghalioun reminded many of Ahmad Chalabi.

The exile opposition did not wait long before it put itself at the disposal of NATO: the SNC’s leader (a man with years of credentials as a supporter of Palestinian rights and as a secular Arab nationalist of sorts) began to flirt with Israel and to serve Gulf dictatorships who quickly assumed funding of the exile opposition.

And the Syrian regime – while popular with many if not most Syrians back home – was not as unpopular as other Arab regimes because Arabs – perhaps wrongly – judged other Arab regimes by the criteria of foreign policy.
In comparison to other Arab regimes, the Syrian regime seemed on bad terms with the US and Israel (although the regime cooperated for years with the US and entered direct and indirect negotiations with Israel). The fact that the Syrian opposition in exile (controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, which has never enjoyed popular support in the Arab world, perhaps because of its cooperation with the Jordanian regime and the pro-Israeli Phalanges back in the late 1970s and 1980s) vocally called for any foreign intervention, only made the cause of the Syrian opposition less appealing than the causes of other Arab opposition groups.

A feeling of resignation set in. Many Arabs have felt that they were denied the chance to chart their own destiny: that revolutions in the Arab context are not permitted by the US for reasons of oil and of Israel. The Syrian people have been suffering for more than a year now, and there are no signs of Arab public sympathy and solidarity.
And when the Syrian opposition in exile took its cause to Tunisia for a meeting of the Arab League, they were met with one of the largest Arab demonstration on Syria, but it was in favor of Bashar Assad.

To be sure, Salafis and various Saudi gangs in Lebanon demonstrated in support of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, but the gatherings have been small and the groups clearly don’t speak for the larger Arab population. It is fair to say that the Syrian situation with such heavy regional and foreign intervention alienated many Arabs who felt the Syrian exile opposition is serving the enemies of the Arab people.

Of course, this is not to call for the disregard of the Syrian people and their legitimate aspirations to rid themselves of a brutal and corrupt regime. But the reality is that the actions and the alliances of the exile Syrian opposition, and the foreign policies of the Syrian regime (regardless of one’s assessment) – because they are on opposite sides of the GCC countries, at least on the surface – all made the cause of the Syrian protests against the Assad regime the least popular Arab uprising thus far.

Comments

Why doesn't As'ad mention that there were many large anti-Bashar protests all over the Arab world including the ones in Tunisia which were just as large as the pro-Bashar one there, most likely by the hypocritical Arab leftists who were the biggest backers when the French intervened to help the Algerian generals.

actually As’ad has been consistent in highlighting the corruption and treachery of the Syrian regime, however only to prove to the audience his knowledge on this subject, make no mistake As’ad does not want the regime to fall under the current circumstances, and that is where he is dishonest and his analysis above is vapid.
In As’ad’s opinion the entire arab population, which of course he can speak on its behalf, is engaged in a big scheme of “self- deception’ where the population believes in the bravado of the Syrian regime against Israel and are critical of the Syrian opposition outside of Syria because of their support for outside intervention…basically here As’ad gives credence to the “arab” population perception as he also wants the audience/reader to believe they are all collaborators.
(But it should be obvious that he did not survey any arab population, it’s not like the arabs have polls, it’s merely As’ad projecting his own self- deception)
If we dig further into As’ad dishonest discourse, you will also see he holds contempt to the opposition inside Syria , of course this is plainly obvious if you read his other pieces as he again labels them as extremist, despite his obligatory one sentence mention of the plight of the right for Syrians to rid themselves of the regime in this article, but in the same article he claims most of the Syrians are pro regime, and here is the big rub, As’ad acknowledges the corruption of the brutality of the regime which rationally would mean people would be against regime, but fear of extremism, and the inert support for regimes foreign stand, and fear of foreign intervention, is worse to bare than the regime itself, as such, this uprising is a failure.
This logic is held by the status quo and is peddled as analysis, and worse as the truth. There is no analysis to what the regime has done with all the infrastructure and power it has under its control to marginalize the Syrian resistance, denying that those resisting are actual Syrians, labeling them as traitors, collaborators, killing and torturing them, making insulting concession to the “constitution” to appease them, all in hopes to push what was a civil (maybe civil disobedience) and 100% peaceful into desperate measure, TO DEFEND THEIR RIGHT TO LIVE AS FREE PEOPLE – which of course As’ad supports but not if those people are resisting, not under these circumstances.
Well short of having aliens with a nice and neat super philosophy that would appease As’ad and please his sensibility, with the pure intention to free Syrians from the slavery of the Asad gang, only then maybe As’ad would be supportive…..or maybe not, it will still be considered outside intervention.
Sorry Syrian people, you have rights, but it’s not the right time.

You've pretty much summed up As'ad's approach perfectly. His escape is using the excuse of "extremism". He supports all forms of resistance against the Syrian regime too, as long as it doesn't come from religious people (as he has stated himself, in his blog). This type of mentality smacks of dogmatism, which is oddly something he always attributes to the "extremists" he hates.

Actually, you're wrong as he has been much softer on the protests by the Shi'ite Islamists in the Gulf, nor does he mention that Nabeel Rajab is a frontman for the Shi''ite Islamists in Bahrain as he does with Ghalyun for the Syrian opposition or that they were the biggest supporters of the American invasion of Iraq.

Protests in the Gulf kingdoms are not sectarian. There are a lot of Shia protesters, but, unlike in Syria, there is not sectarian rhetoric, not mentioning Syrian "revos" sectarian murders. So, As'ad is supporting Gulf protesters exactly because they are not supported by USA the great liberator of Arabs - because they are real homegrown protests against USA' s puppet rulers, who are also supporting Zionists.

Protests in the Gulf are sectarian if we use the same logic directed towards the Syrian protesters and you have no clue about the sectarianism of the Bahrani and Qatifi protesters like the one of the leaders of the Qatif protesters, Nimr an-Nimr who declares Abu Bakr and Umar infidels, or Hasan as-Saffar, the leader of the Saudi Shi'ites who praises the killing of Uthman and calls for liberalism in Saudi Arabia, but doesn't call for it in Iran and Iraq, or Ali Salman, leader of al-Wifaq who supports Bashar, so yes the Gulf Shi'ites are just as sectarian as any of the Syrian protesters. As for violence, then the only reason they haven't resorted to violence is because they don't have access to weapons and I have no doubt whatsoever that if Iran and Iraq can send them weapons, the peaceful nature of the protests would change instantly. As for the supposed "anti-Americanism" of these protests, then that is nonsense and the Gulf Shi'ites were the biggest supporters of the America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which were brought their allies to power with nary a single word of takhween just like the hypocrites of Amal and Hezbollah.

Sure As'ad does not want Syria to be "liberated" ala Iraq or Libya. And this is the only sane position to take for any anti-imperialist.

Sorry, Syrian people, but NATO/GCC/Zionists are NOT going to give you anything but mass death and destruction, torture, kidnapping and so on - they are giving it now, and from Iraq example one could see that, yes, there could be something worse than Saddam/Assad and so on.

So why didn't Amal and Hezbollah utter a single word of takhween towards their allies who rode to power on American tanks?

Even though a sectarian Abu Umar has a not a great stock of arguments, I will answer this.
1) They both (and Iran) were also not protesting NATO/GCC rape of Libya. There were not any shia between the NATO rebels. I think Iran, Amal and Hezbollah behavior was not smart, but it was also not sectarian in this case.

2) Anyway As'ad is not a man of Iran, Amal or Hezbollah. He blasts all of them, and for sectarianism as well. As'ad was and is against NATO liberation of Iraq, and he is against NATO/GCC "liberation" of any state.

Your response proves that you're the sectarian and I wasn't referring to thuwar Nato in Libya which was hypocritically used by the sectarian hypocrites of the "mumana'a", but thuwar Nato in Afghanistan and Iraq who were and are the poodles of Iran and the allies of the Amal and Hezbollah. This isn't an argument, but a bitter reality and Amal and Hezbollah's total and non-stop takhween of all of the Syrian opposition while they were totally silent on their allies who incited the Zionist Neocons to attack Iraq, rode American tanks to power in Afghanistan and Iraq, tooks billions from them, etc. Nay, thuwar Nato were honored and welcomed by Hezbollah in Beirut like Chalabi and Ja'fari, so yes, this proves the utter sectarianism of Amal and Hezbollah in their takhween and I don't give a damn about As'ad "blasting all of them", as if he is the only one to do this in the Arab world, and he doesn't acknowledge others who do them same thing pretending that the other side are as sectarian as his people.

Mastery of Disinformation

In his quest to belittle the current Syrian revolt, Mr. Abu Khalil
deliberately misinforms his readers about certain Syrian and
Arab events to shift the blame off the shoulders of his and (Nassrallah’s hero) the barbaric and “brutal” regime of Bachar Al-Assad.

From the most obvious I should start:
1-During the PLO-Jordanian clashes in the early 70’s, Hafez
Al-Assad, then a defense minister of Syria, collaborated with
King Hussein to finish off the Palestinian guerrilla movement
by cutting off supply routes, and moreover, imprisoning all
Arab and Syrian fighters who were sympathetic to the embattled
PLO. Simply your statement “The fact that the Syrian opposition …
….because of its cooperation with the Jordanian regime and the
pro-Israeli Phalanges back in the late 1970s and 1980s” is faulty
in its Jordanian dimension and a mockery in its “Phalanges”
reference. Mr. Abu Khalil himself witnessed HAFEZ AL-ASSAD
army's frantic drive against Abu Khalil’s Lebanese Patriotic comrades
in Lebanon (in the summer of 1976 while he was a fighter within
the PFLP Lebanese affiliate (Hizb AL-AMEL!)) And by the way
the Muslim brotherhood then was on the side of the PLO!

2- If one’s policies is opposite to those of the GCC countries
make them (the policies) popular with Arabs or so suggests the
following quotation of Mr. Abu Khalil:” and the foreign policies
of the Syrian regime (regardless of one’s assessment) – because
they are on opposite sides of the GCC countries, at least on the
surface – all made the cause of the Syrian protests against the
Assad regime the least popular Arab uprising thus far.”
Where in the world should the Syrian people, (enslaved by a family
mafia for 40 years,) be accountable for any mishaps of GCC
foreign policies!

And when did Mr. Assad diverge from the GCC policies? In Iraq?
In Lebanon? Where? Was Assad making Damascus a Hanoi for
the revolutionaries in Jordan or Palestine?

3- “And the Syrian regime – while popular with many if not most
Syrians back home. “ Any reasonable reader should only trash
such a tasteless assessment and statement about Abu Khalil's butcher-hero Bachar Al-Assad. Only within Mr. Abu Khalil sectarian and “secular” crowd in Lebanon such a statement has some merit!

Douri of the South,
BintJbail, Lebanon

Yes of course, let's just read your posts to get the real information instead. You have proven yourself worthy of trust especially after you forgot to remove your name as Karim Hari from one of the comments in this post , but still signed as Douri of the South. How's the weather today in Bint Jbeil.

It's typical of sectarian arabs/syrians like Karim Hari (aka Douri of the south) , or the other genius Zarathustra, to attack As'ad Abukhalil who has never swayed from his anti-regime stance (even in this post under which they're commenting), a position he has held long before there was such a thing as "The Arab Spring" as his blog clearly shows. But the opposition is so tenuous and so frail, they can't tolerate a mere analysis that doesn't support the narrative presented to us by the western and the gulf press.

Think Mr. Abu Khalil does not need a hand like yours. He can
defend his awkward position on Arab affairs a lot better than you try.

Cloudy in BintJbail this morning!

Douri of The South,
BintJbail, Lebanon

acutually Karim Hari, was not defending him. I am not a fan of his at all. I was only taking the opportunity to emphasize the blind hatred and the narrow sectarian view that ppl like you and zarthustra take when you turn on someone who is so obviously anti-regime as his record clearly shows way before March of 2011.
I think the clouds are in your head. A lot of things seemed to cloud your view of the world.
So? do you want to meet up or what?

Keep stewing in your rage and you have the gall to talk about sectarianism, forgetting that not a single official from Hezbollah or Amal ever uttered a word of takhween against their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq who rode to power on American tanks and tooks billions from them while they have been constantly making takhween against all of the Syrian opposition proving their brazen sectarianism. Also, people are guilty of brazen hypocrisy on Syria and Al-Manar and NBN position is so tenuous that they can't tolerate a single opposition figure on their channels when Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah hosted hundreds of pro-Bashar figures, presenting a narrative that doesn't sway from Ad-Dunya.

Do you have a shortcut key that prints this out by now "Rode to power on american tanks". And what's with using all the words that I used in my comment. You realize it only shows how limited you are. Everytime I see your name I start singing "rode to power on American tanks" to the tune of "Fattoom Fattoom Fattoomeh, khabeeni....". Yuo know that song?

You have the audacity to talk about "how limited you are" when you refuse to discuss the brazen hypocrisy of Amal and Hezbollah making constant takhween of all of the Syrian opposition when they were totally silent on their allies who rode to power on American tanks in Afghanistan and Iraq and tooks billions from them and wouldn't be in power today were it not for the Americans which proves the utter sectarianism of Amal and Hezbollah from the leadership at the top to a shabeeh like yourself. You can keep snickering but the hypocrisy of your ilk will be exposed and have you heard of the saying, "kama tudeen tudaan"?!

a very good and realistic article.
we are sick of that "Arab Hell"! ...

Not sure what "Arabs" Angry Arab is referring too , maybe he based his report on the sectarian "resistance" supporters that read Al-Akhbar (secular sectarians). From my own experience Arabs from gulf , Jordan , Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt and libya are all rooting for the Syrian revolution. The reason Syrians were forced into seeking help from those who do not care about Syrians is because those who supposedly should support popular revolutions like As'ad , progressives , leftists have proven to be hypocrites and de facto support a criminal sectarian regime in the name of "resistance". Had these progressives not acted based on their sectarian tendencies the regime would have fallen long ago. But they chose to give the regime credibility by perpetuating a myth that only exists in their fantasies. The Syrian revolution is popular among arabs, but not among As'ad's secular sectarians that make up a marginal % of lebanon.

What a joke. So we're to understand from that gem of a comment that the majority of Arabs support the opposition but if it weren't for that sliver of support that the regime receives from people like As'ad who btw has been the most staunchly and unequivocally anti-regime, it would have fallen. That's contradictory dude.
If people like you make up the bulk of the opposition, it's not surprising that it didn't take.

Hezbleb I never liked your hidden sectarianism, I never debated you on my blog for a reason. My stance is clear , As'ad can say "he is anti regime " all he wants but for him to equate the opposition with the regime is intellectually dishonest and serves NOONE but regime supporters and sectarian thugs. In As'ad case he has sown the seed in his readers brain that the change coming to Syria (and it is coming despite you and your sectarian party) will be WORSE than the "brutal oppressive Assad regime" ... Syrian revolution is popular , hang out with Non Shia for a couple of days and see for yourself dude.

So I guess you're sticking to your contradictory and illogical analysis that the opposition has the majority support but the regime still draws its support from that minority of Lebanese leftists? Read that outloud. Doesn't it sound funny? :)

And my hidden sectarianism? If it's hidden, how did you unearth it?
But then again why should a charge of sectarianism by you hold any weight? When you call As'ad Abukhalil, of all people, a sectarian. Someone so openly anti-regime as As'ad and his name and ideas are all about secularism and anti-sectarianism gets labeled sectarian by someone like you, only because he mentioned something that doesn't jive with your narrow view of the events. That's actually the thuggish behavior of the remaining syrian "opposition". They are the true shabbiaha. They can't tolerate dissent.
And finally, typical of you and your mental ineptitudes you had to make a statement about how I should hang out with non shias and see for myself. First of all, how do you know who I hang out with and secondly, that's why I used to attack you on your dumb blog. It's your inability to understand basic statistics. Remember the comment that you made one time about how your cousin or your sister just came back from Syria and she told you that the opposition in Damascus is a little over 50%. That was a funny comment to me. And so let's assume that I only have shia acquaintances (is what you're implying) and I go and enlist 200 non-shia* friends and I ask them their opinion about Syria, and they all turn out to be pro opposition, does that mean that the majority in Syria support the opposition? You see how easy you make it. You see why I can't resist making fun of your idiotic comments and your mental shortcomings.

* : In case I decide to take your advice and run this experiment: when you say non-shia, who should I enlist? Do they have to be all sunnis? And what nationality should this new group that I am gonna hang out with be. I am psyched. I might do this. It's go'n be FUUUNNN .Thanks for the idea dude.

"That's actually the thuggish behavior of the remaining syrian "opposition". They are the true shabbiaha. They can't tolerate dissent."

Thats rich coming from you. Has Ad-Dunya, Al-Manar or NBN hosted a single anti-Bashar figure like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya hosted hundreds of pro-Bashar figures? Why are your ilk enraged when your brazen hypocrisy on takhween is pointed out?

Yes, the majority of Arabs support the opposition, except the Al-Manar and Ad-Dunya crowd who love to engage in hypocritical takhween and there were many figures who opposed the Syrian regime other than Bashar.

Also, anybody who lives in a place ravaged by sectarian and ethnic warfare caused by the various powers that be (the same ones supporting the Syrian "opposition") is highly suspicious of the nature of this "revolution" due to the barbaric destruction of Libya. Don't think the world is asleep.

Cheers from Pakistan Al Akhbar, I've learnt a lot about some of the dynamics at work in the Middle East due to your extensive efforts. Much gratitude.

So if the Arabs’ “population” cannot distinguish objective facts from government propaganda why would it be surprising that they would perceive the Syrian uprising as unpopular? Or for that matter perceive all the opposition to the regime as followers of brotherhood.
Afterall what is the meaning of an “Arab” in this day and age? I would think this question has to be answered first and foremost, before an analysis such as the above can be relevant.

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