The disorder and bloodshed in Syria today is of greater concern to Turkey and
Israel than to any other countries. First, of course, there are the human and
moral dimensions, the need to protecting the innocent Syrian population. Then
there are the military actions that menace the frontiers of both countries and
which are, in all likelihood, accidental.
If normal diplomatic relations
still existed between the two countries, there is no doubt that the Syria issue
is the first thing their leaders would have sat down to discuss. And it is not
hard to predict that had Turkey and Israel adopted a joint stance against the
repression in Syria, the current shamelessness of the Assad regime would have
been far more muted.
So far nearly 50,000 people have been murdered by
pro-Assad soldiers and paramilitaries, making Syria’s uprising the bloodiest of
those of the Arab Spring. While more than two million people have been displaced
from their homes, the number of refugees is expected to reach 700,000 by the end
of this year. With the beginning of winter soon arriving, with sub-zero
temperatures, many children are at great risk unless we stop the ongoing
In some circles, the bloodshed in Syria tends to be regarded as
an internal sectarian struggle. But looking at the recent past, and at the
history of the Ba’ath Party, it can be be seen that the conflict stems not from
religion, but rather from the effects of the secular, communist and repressive
The Ba’ath Party, which represents the communist
political structure in Syria, assumes a Leninist-style cell structure, from the
lowliest functionary to the most elevated. Members of different cells do not
know one another. Thanks to this structure, the Ba’ath Party has been able to
place severe pressure on the people and bureaucracies. Academic, political,
military and bureaucratic memberships have been drawn from dyed-in-the-wool
Stalinist party members.
Those who remember the Syria of Assad senior can
more easily understand the current situation in Syria. The present-day bloody
Ba’athist regime is actually the continuation of a system that has been
oppressing Syria for decades. After seizing power in an internal coup in 1970,
Hafez Assad, the communist leader of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, entered into a
close friendship with the Soviet Union. Throughout his regime he maintained his
hold on power through state terror. The repressive Assad regime, that described
itself as a “Socialist People’s Democracy,” soon turned Syria into a landscape
of despotism and terror. All other political parties were closed down. Support
for any opposing views apart from the socialist ideology of the Arab Socialist
Ba’ath Party were banned.
In their reports, international human rights
organizations describe the terrible persecution of Syrian Muslims under the
Assad regime, the rape of women and the terrible tortures inflicted on
The Hafez Assad regime also sought, and to a large extent succeeded,
to intimidate the Muslim populace through raids on people’s homes, attacks on
mosques, defamation and constant harassment.
In 1982, on the pretext of a
number of highly dubious assassination plots, the Syrian secret service began
operations against Muslims in the country. In these operations, initiated at the
command of Hafez Assad, it is estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 civilians were
murdered. Several international communist terror organizations sought shelter in
the country during Hafez Assad’s rule, and were given significant logistical
After the death of Hafez Assad, it was hoped that major changes
would take place in Syria with the accession to power of his son Bashar.
Everyone supported Bashar Assad in the hope that a more moderate and democratic
climate would emerge. However, it was quickly seen that it would be impossible
for a climate of true democracy and peace to be established, and for any
semblance of stability to emerge, without the complete removal of the communist
regime in Syria.
Now the threat is double-edged. On the one hand, a
tyrannical secular regime; on the other, a repressive and bigoted ideology. Both
sides of the same coin that poses a major threat to both Syrian people and to
the region. That is why the healthy implementation of democracy is crucial and
force can no longer be used in an attempt to subjugate people who hold to
different opinions and beliefs.
Insofar as Russia is a member of the
Shanghai Bloc, it gives its ideological support to the Syrian regime. Syria has
been Russia’s natural ally largely owing to their common ideology. However, if
prime ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Recep Erdogan sat down and talked to
Vladimir Putin together and explained why Russia should not support the current
regime, the balance of power would change immediately.
But it must be
made clear to Russia that we are concerned for the Syrian people, that they need
to be free, be they Sunni, Shia, Christian, Druse or communist, and all their
views must be represented by democratic elections.
It is also essential
to stress that we only want democracy to come to Syria, and we don’t want Syria
to be divided or devastated; our intention is to be brothers and we want them
live without pressure or fear.
In conclusion, if Israel and Turkey were
in accord with their foreign policies, it goes without saying that things would
be solved more swiftly and it is very likely that this alliance would stem the
current support of Russia for the ruthless Syrian government.
is a political and religious commentator from Turkey, and an executive producer
at A9 TV. She is also the spokesperson of a prominent international interfaith