By: Tarik Al-Diery
Man carries young child out of rubble in East Aleppo after Syrian regime bombardment. Photo taken from The Daily Star.
In George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, we see a story unfold of an endless power struggle by multiple factions fighting for the ultimate prize of winning the throne of the seven kingdoms. Along the way, the reader observes the extent that different parties are prepared to undertake to achieve the end goal. When describing his former colleague and associate Lord Baelish, Varys states “he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”
Syria’s fascist dictator Bashar Al-Assad is Lord Baelish, and one can only question if George R.R. Martin saw into the future before creating this fictional character. As we approach six years from the start of the Syrian uprising, one cannot help but find parallels between popular Game of Thrones characters and the Syrian ruler.
An Arab spring that blossomed with hopes of democracy, equality, and justice for all in 2011 has been blown a heavy loss due to a long dreaded winter by fascist forces conspiring to prevent any hope for modernization and progression.
After enduring a four year brutal siege, Syria’s largest city Aleppo has been retaken by Assad forces and its Shia sectarian allies from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, along with aerial backing from Russia. The ancient city that once fought off and defeated every invader, could no longer stand against the most brutal and barbaric regime of its age. Aleppo’s beauty, history, and wisdom were sucked from its soul by a tyrannical leader adamant on ruling over a city of ashes.
Aleppo has been besieged on two fronts. The first came from Assad and his sectarian radical Shia allies. Contrary to what the Syrian regime will admit, the Syrian army has long been shattered and diminished of its resources and manpower. Poor and often uneducated Shia youth from Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, under the command of Iranian leadership, waged an ethnic cleansing war on behalf of the Syrian government against the Syrian people. Despite the influx of thousands of mercenaries, that alone was not enough to secure victory, and by September 2015, Russian interference was vital in order to prevent the collapse of the Syrian regime.
The second element of the siege came from the international community and the West. The United States and its allies damaged the hopes and aspirations of Syrians far more than the Assad regime and its allies. The Obama administration, indecisive and contradictory with its plans, allowed for the Assad regime to grow bolder and more ambitious as the war prolonged. Obama’s red line warnings with regards to the use of chemical weapons proved to be nothing more than empty threats.
The Obama administration handed Assad a gift far greater than Putin’s own interference: the prevention of forming no-fly-zones over Syria and the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army. The United States’ reckless and irresponsible foreign policy is a detrimental factor in the loss of over 500,000 Syrian lives, and the forced displacement of half the Syrian population, all of which could have been avoided.
The United States has focused its attention to fighting ISIS, a radical group that has been a blessing in disguise for the Syrian regime, as it could finally justify its crimes against the Syrian people through its supposed fight against terrorism. The US has thrown its full weight behind the Syrian-Kurdish YPG forces, a branch of the Turkish PKK terrorist organization. Ironically, the same Kurdish groups that the Obama administration has funded, participated alongside Assad forces and Shia militias in carving up Eastern Aleppo. The US finds itself in an awkward position, directly and indirectly, on the same side as fascist forces.
Western-leftists, often priding themselves on standing against injustice, corruption, and imperialism, often found themselves split amongst each other with the war in Syria. Many justified the crimes and atrocities of the Assad regime, and turned a blind eye to Russian and Iranian imperialism. For many Western-leftists, the idea of associating anyone other than the United States with imperialism failed to fit their narrative. The war in Syria exposed the hypocrisy and double-standards of many supposed leftist intellectuals.
The world abandoned the cause of the Syrian people. In ignoring the plight for reform and democracy, our international community has signalled to fascist regimes across the world that we will tolerate and turn a blind eye to injustice. We will appease to criminals to justify the status-quo.
What fascists fail to understand is that although Aleppo fell, victory and triumph belongs to the Syrian people for their defiance and resilience against great odds. The Syrian people have overcome much adversity through their long and proud history. Their commitment to liberate their country from hate and injustice cannot be defeated. No force on this earth, no matter how great or powerful, can defeat the will of the people and the might of a pluralistic society. Democracy in Syria will win.
Syria is a story being written. Out of the ashes of Aleppo will rise a free Syria.