Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Helping Syrians: Followup to 'Wasted Indignation?'


The 'Wasted Indignation' post asked Egyptian activists, some by name, to show more support for the Syrian revolution. Of those named, only Alaa Abd El Fattah responded, as follows:
@intensionality @Ghonim @Gsquare86 @Monasosh and why the suck [sic] we named when we've already announced support for Syrian revolution? WTF
It may be useful to clarify the original post.

First, the appeal was for support, not an announcement of support. Actual support is either slim or terribly discreet. The April 6th movement "demanded that Egypt’s Parliament recognise the opposition Syrian National Council and for Cairo to expel the Syrian Ambassador to Egypt in order to give a strong impetus to the Syrian revolution". Welcome, no doubt, but this was in February 2012. After six months of horrifying slaughter and desperate combat, there are no reports of further pronouncements. Moreover the demand is at least obsolete. The SNC is widely regarded as a weak, even counterproductive institution. As for expelling the ambassador, that falls far short of what Syrian themselves have demanded for many months - active support for the FSA. Indeed the April 6th demand is not noticeably bolder than what, during these months, we've heard from the US.

Alaa Abd El Fattah's and Manal Hassan's blog contains an entry from a year earlier, February 2011, which calls for a march "In Solidarity with revolutions of the world!":
The whole world has been watching, praying, supporting and celebrating with us. It's time we did the same for Bahrain, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Syria, Yemen & Iran.
Join us Monday 21st Feb in a solidarity march with nations fighting to win back their freedom.
Presumably no one would call this an adequate response to current developments in Syria.

Second, there is a need for something more than a generalized endorsement of the Syrian revolution. Generalized endorsements are like good wishes; they do not inaugurate a political strategy. The request for a strategy is implicit in the suggestion that free Egyptians "question the silence of their new leaders". This is not about having gone on record, at some time or other, as supporting the Syrian resistance. Effective 'questioning' can only mean ongoing, highly visible and vocal pressure by Egyptian activists on their own government. This clearly isn't happening and it seems a very modest request, considering that some Libyan activists are actually fighting and dying in Syria.

Third, leftists, including Egyptian leftists, may well have peculiar responsibilities to the Syrian cause. A large segment of the left has unleashed a stream of verbiage designed to discredit and undermine the Syrian revolution: their incessant attacks are probably far more effective in sapping support for the Syrian revolution than anything Assad himself has mustered. Egyptian leftists could play a valuable role in countering the propaganda. They don't seem to have done so.

Finally, to belabour the obvious, the horrendous crisis in Syria makes a mockery of ordinary gestures of support. That someone has once or twice expressed support for the Syrian revolution in past months is nothing like adequate. It does nothing for the morale of Syrian activists who operate under in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. The crisis requires public efforts on an almost daily basis.

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