Thursday, June 9, 2011

Syria, You're Blowing It!


I am concerned with the events in Syria, and particularly the leaked videos of the two young men being tortured at the hands of the Syrian military. The scenes are graphic, shocking and deplorable, and if they are true, then the outside world must take action to protect the Syrian people from their regime. According to the NY Times this morning, more than 2,500 Syrians are fleeing the country to seek refuge in Turkey. United Nations High Commissioner Navi Pillay is reporting that more than 1,000 democratic protesters might have been shot down in peaceful demonstrations while another 10,000 may have been detained by Syrian military and police. We can only speculate that this might have happened and that the Syrian citizens may have been detained because we really just don't know

What would appear to be exacerbating this issue is Syria's refusal to allow any foreign journalists or news groups to come in to report firsthand to confirm or deny the claims of abuse. I would think that nothing could more easily deflate any false information being circulated about the crimes against the Syrian people, like firsthand reporting would. But, that just isn't happening. And worst yet, the government is doing a very poor job of deflecting attention from themselves.  If you were to visit the official Syrian Ministry of Information web site (http://www.moi.gov.sy/en), it would appear that it is "just another Thursday in Syria" - nope, nothing wrong here. That is worst than poor PR,  it is problematic for the country. Particularly so if they refuse to address the issues and scrutiny facing their regime.

NPR's All Things Considered aired a short interview this evening with a representative of the Syrian Ministry of Information, but the interview was not fruitful. (http://www.npr.org/2011/06/09/137089311/syrian-spokeswoman-discusses-reports-of-government-torture#commentBlock) The woman would neither "confirm nor deny" that Syrian military fired upon protesters and flatly denied that any Syrians were fleeing the country, rather they were "visiting family across the border in Turkey." Nice try. She did say that she found the video of the young man being tortured to be "abhorrent and reprehensible" and wanted to assure the foreign press that the matter was being fully investigated, as though that would ease any outside pressure to verify her statements.

My question at this point in the "Syrian Summer" which is still unfolding is this: Are the Syrian's playing by the same faulty playbook that Saddam Hussein had? Do they really believe that they can continue to stiff arm foreign humanitarian and political agencies, like the American Red Cross and the IAEA and the foreign press corp indefinitely? Is the Syrian regime planning on waiting this out and hoping that this will all pass and go back to the way it was last year? Sorry Syria, not likely to happen now.

One thing that the Syrian Ministry of Information spokeswoman said, which I thought was very interesting, was this, "I am surprised that 'The West' is showing more interest in Syria right now than the Syrians themselves are." That might very well be true. But, what is important to note, even in that truth from the Syrian Ministry is that it is not "Western Nature" to want to get to the bottom of an issue and reveal the truth of a situation, it is human nature. The more Syria resists that bad things are happening within its borders and the more it demands that it just be left alone to its own devices, the more the world will want to see. Tell someone that they cannot have something and it will be all that they want.

Since Syria is a strong ally of Iran, maybe this is playing right into the hands of U.S. intelligence. Maybe the CIA and NSA are counting on Syria to be rigid and resistant in the same way that Iraq was, right up and until the moment that Baghdad fell. If the Syrian regime wants foreign troops to overthrow their system of government, then they are doing a great job right now. Keep resisting and keep denying the atrocities being reported by your people and I will assure you that the world will come knocking, by way of a tank barrel and a "bunker busting" bomb.

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