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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Shia Anti-Hezbollah Protest Exposes Syria Sectarian War Lie

The leader of a prominent Shia organization was killed Sunday when the protest he was leading in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was attacked by black-shirted thugs from the Shia group Hezbollah.

The embassy demonstration was one of two rallies held in Beirut on Sunday to protest Hezbollah's support for the Assad regime in Syria. Another took place in Sidon, Lebanon. [See video below] The embassy protest had been called by the anti-Hezbollah Shia party Lebanese Option Gathering.

The head of the party's student committee, Hashem Salman, was killed by gunshot when the protest was attacked by the Hezbollah thugs. The Daily Star reported:
A Daily Star journalist on the scene saw men in black shirts with yellow ribbons around their arms shoving protesters away from the site as they exited buses some 200 meters from the embassy complex.

The protesters barely had time to raise their banners before they were beaten up, and several were injured with sticks, he said.

Several of the men in black shirts then opened fire in the air to disperse the demonstrators. They fired over two dozen shots.

In a statement, the Lebanese Army said a citizen was killed as a result of a fight outside the embassy.
It sounds like they were attacked by a fascist gang of "black shirts" but the yellow ribbons let everybody know who it was.

There was also a demonstration against Hezbollah in downtown Beirut. The National Liberal Party had their flag, along with the Lebanese national flag and the Syrian opposition flag, flying in Martyrs' Square where they were protesting Hezbollah's intervention in Syria. Upon hearing of the attack at the Iranian embassy, the leader to the National Liberal party's youth wing sent a message of solidarity to the "Free Shiites" of the Gathering.

Revolution or Sectarian Civil War?

The Assad dynasty has always used sectarianism to maintain its rule of Syria. In doing this it was merely following in the foot-prints of its French colonial masters who had long ago adopted a policy of creating a privileged Alawite class and then leveraging that to control the much larger Sunni majority.

Since the beginning of this revolution, the Assad regime has tried to paint it as a sectarian civil war. They have had a lot of success with this propaganda. More recently this view of the situation has gained favor among a growing number of pundits and is finding a home in more media outlets.

For those looking for good reasons to look the other way and allow thousands of Syrian's to die while the do nothing, sectarian civil war with both sides doing the killing sounds like a pretty good excuse to stay out of it.

If, on the other hand, it is a democratic revolution in which the majority of Syrians are demanding an end to a fascist dictatorship, and are being massacred because they are so poorly armed and face a well-armed regime willing to use air supremacy to slaughter civilians; that is a cause that cries out for the support of every decent human being.

There is no serious contest over the fact that tens of thousands have been killed in this conflict, nor that a well-armed regime is willing to use its internationally sanctioned air supremacy to slaughter its own civilians. The differing views over whether it is, at core, a democratic revolution or a sectarian civil war, is what seems to divide the supporters of Assad's opposition from supporters of Assad and those who want no part of it.

The Assad regime has done everything it can to turn what most observers agree began as a struggle for democracy into a sectarian conflict. They know they can never win the battle for democracy but they may be able to stalemate a sectarian conflict and stay in power.

Syria is a majority Sunni country so, not surprisingly, the opposition is majority Sunni. Assad has always favored his Alawite base and worked to create loyalty to his regime and fear of democracy among the Christian, Druze and Shiite minorities. This has been the basis upon which he has been trying to wage a sectarian civil war against the revolution. He has organized his forces along sectarian lines, with his Alawite shabiha being responsible for the worst massacres. He has carried out killings along sectarian lines and waged an intense propaganda campaign in Christian and Shia communities designed to create fear of a revolutionary victory.

The narrative he has sought to create, the story of sectarian civil war in Syria, has been widely adopted by the Western Media and Left.

It is a lie. From the beginning and through today, the opposition to the Assad regime has had many Christian, Alawite and Shiite fighters in its ranks. George Sabra, president of the opposition Syria National Council is a Christian. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed his support for the Sunni al-Nustra Front against the Alawite Assad. In March, members of Assad's Alawite minority met in Cairo to announce their support for his overthrow.
"This revolution is for all Syrians," said Bassem al-Yousef, another organiser of the conference held in a Cairo hotel.

"Our goal must be to dismantle the entire regime," he told the gathering.

"I think most Alawites hate the Assad family. But the Alawites have a fear, planted by the Assads, of what comes next," Yousef said.
At the same time, Assad has always had a base among Sunni capitalists and still has many trusted Sunni officers in his army.

Stories like the ones above are not likely to get highlighted by the Media or the Left because they get in the way of their current narrative in which Hezbollah, representing all Shia in Lebanon, is coming to the aid of fellow Shia in Syria in what is becoming an increasingly bloody sectarian conflict.

Here we have the story of a serious split in the Lebanese Shia community over the role of Hezbollah in Syria, over a political, not a sectarian issue. The Shia Hezbollah recently claimed victory, together with their Sunni allies in the SAA, over the majority Sunni, but multi-ethnic, opposition in Qusayr.

So what does that do to the thesis that this is a sectarian civil war?

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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