Arabism, Islamic history

The Assad regime is not a dictatorship and Syria is no more a construct than ‘the west’

Mail-on-line view, a farce

I just noticed an internet article by the ‘Mail on line’ carrying the bald headline  ”Syrian dictator Assad welcomes Trump’s victory as it lessens chance that US will target his regime” Unfortunately it was already closed to new comments, unsurprisingly as its readership has the attention span of fleas. One contributor declared that ”President al-Assad is no more an evil dictator than any other Middle Eastern dictator all of whom were put in place by the British in the first place”. I believe some of these commentators are on side politically but still accept the view that the west is supreme in imposing ideology on the world.

Constructs, skewed sociology

Last year at the Slovenian transit refugee camp in Dobova I spoke to an Irish man who was surprised that I didn’t support a Kurdish ”homeland”. He then went on to express the view that not only was the Assad regime imposed by the west but that Syria itself is a western construction. This whole rhetoric assumes that no-one in the eastern world has an ideology but what is ”the west” if not a construct? Before further discussion on this I’ll make a couple of points.

President al-Assad is neither a dictator or over optimistic about Mr Trump’s win

President al-Assad has his reservations about Mr Trump’s win, he says it is promising but that Mr Trump has an administration, which might not agree with his policies.

President al-Assad is no more a dictator than any world leader. As I’ve said over and over, the British Conservative party has been around for almost 400 years and the British elite is the envy of the world, in so much as it rules with a fist of steel but succeeds in coming across as ”democratic”. There is more than one way to govern a country  but one thing that struck me about Syria was the autonomy of each region, it didn’t have the flavour of being centrally governed.

There are secret police but there are in some guise or other in every country. Its presence was justified in Syria because of the two opposing ideologies and like it or not the Syrian Brothers do share an ideology with the invader, the various Islamic mercenary groups who are backed by Britain, I can’t speak for other countries. The situation Syria is in today was always going to happen, thus strong leadership was essential.

What the majority of so-called democratic countries have is an electoral system, where one or two parties, with similar ideologies vie for power at regular intervals. Two amazing and very different examples of an electoral system are Britain and Lebanon. The former consists of a land owning elite and a game player who always supports the same principles but enforces them in a different way; they are the Conservative and Labour parties. The Latter consists of a bunch of land owning dynastic families who, in the words of a Lebanese friend, took them into a civil war (with the exception of Hizb’allah, which was formed during the civil war), took them through said war, took them out of it again and are still there. Mustn’t be too critical as they are co-existing fairly peacefully together at present and long may this continue.

East is east, west is west; not true

True there are four compass points but what we call ‘the west’ is a construction as it pertains only to Britain, America and a handful of European countries, even some of the EU countries formed part of the ”eastern bloc” until a few years back and probably still do in the eyes of the monopoly capitalists. Geographically the term is a nonsense as some African countries are west of Europe, Australia and New Zealand are clearly in the east. The USA is  no more western than latin America, even in the broadest terms, The level of poverty there is tremendous and the majority language is Spanish as it equates with its latin counterparts, which are not viewed as part of the western world.

Herodotus and the west

The historian Herodotus (5th century BC) may have been one of the first writers to differentiate between the occident and orient (west and east). Though Greek he was born in Bodrum, now in west Turkey, which if nothing else demonstrates how fluid our geography is. Herodotus traveled extensively and much of his writing involved accounts of the Persian/Greek wars. The Persian empire then controlled Anatolya now in East Turkey and to Herodotus it had become too large, greedy and powerful. He was proud of the Greek victory, which represented a triumph for western civilisation and for ”freedom in government, speech and thought” Jennifer T. Roberts. Still, as Anthony Kwame Appiah states in his ‘Reith Lecture’, BBC Radio 4, November 8th 2016. Herodotus knew far less about the west as it is defined today than those countries that are now classified as eastern. For Herodotus and for a further thousand years no-one referred to Europeans as a people.

Islam and the West

According to Mr Appiah the term European was first used to contrast the Christian and Muslim faiths or Christendom and Dar al-Islam. This followed the battle for Tour, which in effect halted the Ummiyad Caliphate’s conquest of Europe and though a victory for Christianity it was not defined in terms of a western victory. Mr Appiah describes how Islamic scholars, just like their Christian counterparts, went on to study the scholarship of the Greek classical traditions and indeed that much of this work was preserved by Muslim scholars throughout the dark ages.

 

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