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Why Doesn’t the World Sympathize with Tehran and Damascus?

Why Doesn’t the World Sympathize with Tehran and Damascus?

Wednesday, 20 January, 2021 - 11:15

Imagine a country is hit with damaging airstrikes week after week, or one whose prominent figures and leaders are assassinated by another state, and half a ton of its classified files are stolen.

These are two cases that invoke solidarity from global public opinion, and those who strive for peace and hate violence and aggression around the world.

Such a projection doesn’t apply to Iran and Syria, which have been subjected to what was described above, simultaneously inflicting pain, high costs and humiliating them.

Of course, there are some on this fringe that is always opposed to the United States of America, whether it is right or wrong, whether its president is Donald Trump or anyone else. They do not reflect public opinion and its influential voices, parties, the press, religious institutions, environmental and pacifist movements and other civil society organizations.

On top of that, we can notice when it comes to Netanyahu, for example, the difference in sympathy for his Palestinian victims and the low level sympathy for his Iranian rivals. There are those who can’t stand Donald Trump and his policies, but with regard to Iran and Syria, they reduce the acrimony of their criticism and their condemnation of the president whose term has expired. Even among those who opposed his withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and support reentering it, one finds those who present this course of action as one that contains evil and prevents Khamenei’s regime from posing a graver danger. This is many Europeans’ stance.

Of course, there will always be those who put this indifference down to a deep-rooted Western apathy for what happens to Muslims and their countries. This is not true in any sense, especially after NATO Forces’ 1994-1995 intervention in the Bosnian War, when they stood by the Muslims against the Serbs. That is besides their intermittent interventions to protect Muslim Kurds in Syria and Iraq, the most important of which came in 1991, with de facto, though not nominal, autonomy for Iraqi Kurdistan being imposed.

That argument becomes even more absurd once we notice the widespread sympathy that Western public opinion, European and American, has for the Muslim Rohingyas being persecuted in Myanmar or the Muslim Uighurs being persecuted in China.

The problem with the Iranian and Syrian regimes is that they cannot present themselves to the world as victims of aggression. The victim’s garment does not suit their bodies.

The regimes of Khamenei and Bashar al-Assad are the definition of belligerent powers. Their violations range from using chemical weapons to developing nuclear weapons, and from mass murder, assassination, mass displacement and dropping barrel bombs over civilians’ heads to expanding their territory and influence at the expense of other territories and others’ sovereignties.

We are, then, not faced with Czechoslovakia confronting Hitler, nor Kuwait facing up to Saddam Hussein. We are, on the contrary, faced with aggressors whose ability to exercise their belligerence is waning today, frustrated aggressors.

We can’t forget that many Syrians and Iranian intellectuals have asked the world to intervene to stop these regimes’ aggression against their people.

But even if we were to put actions aside, we would still have the bellicose rhetoric, which is totally alien to that of victims. This is what the whole world hears, and it is not difficult to interpret. The two regimes’ entire lexicon is composed of threats, showing strength and waving “earth shaking” rockets around. Worse still, they couldn’t speak the language of the vanquished if they wanted to. Their pugnacious nature trumps every pretension to play the opposite.

To make sure, let’s go over some of the statements they issue as they are dealt painful and humiliating blows:

Below is a sample of their TV stations and newspapers’ explanations of why the Iranian and Syrian regimes failed to retaliate to these strikes:

- The Israeli and American operations are nothing more than a response to the two sides’ defeat in Syria...

- The Israelis and the Americans acknowledge the strength and accuracy of the resistance’s missiles...

- Panic strikes Israelis and Americans because of their fear of the blow that will be directed at them when the time comes...

The astonishing discrepancy between the state of affairs and its description speaks to how deeply entrenched the consciousness of belligerence is in both regimes and demonstrates that their tongues don’t utter a single term that suggests a desire to end this state of animosity or affirm their weakness, which has become apparent even to those without eyes to see.

But there is a more important reason for this denial. Everything would collapse if they were to merely speak the language of weakness, and the reason for this is simple: these are two regimes built on might, and if they were to put it aside, they wouldn’t have much left to brag about.

The world that seeks peace and sympathizes with victims doesn’t like heroes much, to say nothing about mere alleged heroism.

Such behavior does not garner the alleging party much sympathy. It only garners mockery, the chuckles of which can be heard far and wide.

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