Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blood & Circumstance!

The attacks on Syrian refugees in Iraq are increasing by the day, scores have been killed so far, and dozens have been rendered homeless or under arrest as terrorists. The campaign is being justified by the Maliki government as a crackdown on terrorists, but these refugees have been in Iraq for decades having been driven out from Syria by their ideological and personal differences with the Assads. As such they have no reason whatsoever to collaborate with the Assads to bring about any instability in Iraq. Indeed many of them are organized opposition members. Some are in fact affiliated with the National Salvation Front.

Coming at this particular point in time, following Iraqi president Jalal Talabani’s trip to Syria and his meeting with his Syrian counterpart among other top Syrian officials, and following the conclusion of a bilateral agreement on security between Syrian and Iraqi officials, the current bloody crackdown is prompting many Syrian Iraqis to see a potential connection here, and the outlines of a sinister plot against them. Indeed, are Iraqi security and military officials helping the Syrian regime settle some old scores with Syrian opposition members in Iraq? While it is difficult answer this question with any certainty, the fact that the Assad regime refuses to allow these Syrian refugees back to their motherland at a time when virtually hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees are allowed to flood Syrian cities tend to give credence to this perception.

But this situation shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. In fact, and regardless of the accuracy of this perception at this stage, arrangements like these, ones that will allow for the silencing of opposition members even beyond Syria’s borders, are indeed the kind of quid pro quos that engagement with the Assads is bound to produce. This is exactly the kind of price that the Assads will demand. An agreement with the Assads will need to be signed in blood, Syrian blood, Iraqi blood, Palestinian blood, Lebanese blood, American blood.

No, this is not meant to exonerate America from its own responsibility with regard to the current bloodletting in Iraq, but it merely seeks to underscore that correcting one bloody policy cannot take place by advancing another. This is what got us into this mess to begin with. The only way forward is to actually proceed forward not roll the clock back to some “magical time” when realist policies turned a blind eye on the various acts of repression and mayhem that regimes, such as the Assad’s, unleashed on their people. This world has grown too small for a policy of willful blindness to go unpunished for long. The world these days seems to allow at least this one certainty.