Syrian people need urgent help from Israel, Turkey

It is essential to stress that we only want democracy to come to Syria, and we don’t want Syria to be divided or devastated.

Syrian refugees in Turkey 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)
Syrian refugees in Turkey 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)
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 massacre.
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 Ba’athist regime.
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 men.
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 support.
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.
The author 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 organization.