September 23, 2016

Syrian intellectuals see common goal in U.S. and Russian policy in their country



Secretary of State John Kerry announcing U.S.-Russia-led ceasefire in Syria. Via CNN.

Less than two weeks after John Kerry announced that the U.S. was working with the Russian government to establish an (already compromised) ceasefire in Syria, a group of Syrian writers, artists, academics, and journalists have signed an open letter damning both superpowers’ policies in the conflict.

Published by The Nation, the letter accuses the U.S. and Russia, who back different parties in the conflict, of “working to co-opt the Syrian liberation struggle under the rubric of ‘war on terror.’”

They offer a straightforward rebuke of the Obama Administration’s reluctance to challenge Bashar al-Assad, and, by extension, its willingness to work with the Russians despite the fact that Russia has helped arm Assad’s regime. The letter includes the signatures of the novelist Samar Yazbek, the writer Farouk Mardem-Bey, and Burhan Ghalioun, the first chairman of the Syrian National Council, and reads:

Three years ago the two imperialist nations signed a reprehensible deal on chemical weapons that resolved a problem for the United States, Israel, and Russia, and even for the Assad regime, which had just murdered 1,466 of its subjects. The deal however did not resolve any of the problems facing the Syrian people. Rather it gave free rein to an extremely criminal regime that kills Syrians, destroys their villages and communities, and drives them into exile. […] The agreement remains silent on the untold number of detainees held in brutal conditions, and includes no call for lifting the blockade on besieged areas, or the withdrawal of Iran, the Hezbollah militia, or any other sectarian militia. It is also devoid of any reference to the concept of a new and democratic Syria.

In especially strong language, the letter accuses the United Nations of financing Assad’s cronies, criticizes both Putin and Obama for “tak[ing] decisions that violate our right to self-determination,” and condemns U.S. and Russian politicians alike as “responsible for this disaster and for their exposure as nihilistic murderers and terrorists, similar to their arch-rivals in the Islamist nihilistic camp.”

You can read the full letter here.



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.