Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

The Syrian Regime and its Resistance 'Philosophy'

The Syrian Regime and its Resistance 'Philosophy'

Wednesday, 30 December, 2020 - 11:00

A few days ago, in the early hours of Friday, panic spread among the Lebanese again as the sound of rockets launched from the Mediterranean were heard as they flew over Beirut before going north, targeting Missyaf in the Syrian province of Hama. The event is not new. The fear is not new.

It is not new for Israeli strikes to hit their targets in Syria either. Nor is it new for Damascus to announce that it had brought them down and cost the enemy dearly.

Incidents of this kind have become common. They have been recurring, under different names and slogans, with variance in their details, since the 1960s, and it is the simple "philosophy": Lebanon being used to resist Israel and Israel using Lebanon to retaliate to that resistance.

Two things are astonishing about this: The resistance, whether it is the Palestinian one of the sixties, or the Lebanese - Iranian - Syrian resistance that succeeded it, does not aspire to victory or parity, nor does it strive to hinder potential strikes. The resistant knows that this is out of the question because of the Israeli aggressor's evidently supreme military power. The resistant may say otherwise, but saying so does not negate his deep awareness of this fact. He lies, and he knows that he is lying.

The second thing is that the resistant does not take the harm his enemy inflicts on him into account nor is there hope on the horizon for any political gains to be made from this battle. While it is understandable that he is not concerned about the harm inflicted on Lebanon, it is difficult to comprehend why the injuries he sustains do not concern him either.

The denied fact is simple: Any war or confrontation, launched from Lebanon (or Jordan, Egypt, or Syria ...) stems from an existential weakness of the idea of resistance: Fighting is done from a third country. For fighting from this third country to make gains, fantastical objectives must be met; we all must become a single entity; our different nationalities, religions, confessions, sects, classes, proclivities, and cultures must not separate us and we must agree that we want to fight the enemy and that we are ready to make any sacrifice, the possible and impossible, in this vein. That is, millions of Arabs in the countries surrounding Israel should be transformed into poetic beings.

Harsh reality got the best of poetry: Two civil wars erupted in Jordan and Lebanon, and the exorbitant costs of the wars pushed both Egypt and Jordan to leave. As for the Palestine Liberation Organization, it has also decided, at least since the early 1990s, that politics may have been more useful for attaining rights than war…

There are two relative exceptions to this general illustration of the obstacles facing the resistance:

The era of Hafez al-Assad: He was indeed fighting an impossible war without being directly involved, and he was being dealt blows and insults. However, with his Arab and international relations and his army’s presence in Lebanon, and by exploiting Egypt’s absence (because of Camp David) and that of Iraq (because of the war with Iran), he was able to barter, sell and buy, and he was making fleeting gains here and there from time to time.

Meanwhile, in Iran, it is true that the policies it has pursued, including an impossible war it is waging through others, have come back to drain, impoverish and insult the country, most recently through the assassination of its top military leader and scientist. But it is also true that it imposed itself as a regional player with ambitions and influence in at least four Arab countries. It is pursuing the unlikely prospect of Biden compensating it for the gains Donald Trump snatched away.

The pure catastrophe is the Syrian regime during Bashar's era, where resistance's fruitlessness is at its zenith. Merely staying alive is the only demand. Resistance and resilience bring about conflicts that are no longer limited to Lebanon and the Palestinians, especially since his forces were taken out of Lebanon. He has become the party directly concerned because his territory is being struck. Thus, he is now being insulted directly as well. On the other hand, he is no longer able to invest, benefit or depend on anything in any way. His protection is guaranteed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah; as for Israel, a declaration that southern Syria is its sphere of influence is not far-fetched.

In other words, we are looking at a regime without capabilities, and consequently without goals. To maintain its survival, it remains ready to sacrifice everything, from Syria's territory to its dignity and its people. Everything for nothing.

In this state, Syria does not resemble Iran, but it also doesn't resemble itself under Hafez el Assad. The closest parallel is the Gaza Strip under Hamas: Lure Israeli aggression, and the rest is up to God. Only a regime that is colonizing its land and displacing its people would sacrifice them to survive in this way.

There have always been Lebanese who demand that Lebanon be spared this resistance out of concern for their country. Concern for Syria has become a new reason to make this demand today.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks