The Question of Life and Death

On June 10, 2000, the builder of modern Syria, the late president Hafez Al-Assad passed away. 13 years following the untimely demise of the Late president, the question of life and death is still at times a puzzle, as realities on the ground do show; it is unknown whether death ends others’ life or brings it more and more into limelight ! Thus, there are many of the living but dead in spirit, the dead but ever living in deeds as well as words. This isn’t a philosophical theory but rather an observation by a journalist when it comes to the untimely demise of the late President, Hafez Assad, whose presence was very strong in the aftermath of demise. Almost all the said and done by the late Assad do remind the majority of his heroic principles stances. The very stances, which came in an accurate translation for a wise balanced policy, based on the principles of of unlimited belief in the power of masses and of the Arab Nation, betterment and improvement of the masses living conditions, welfare and prosperity, full return and liberation of the occupied territories and usurped rights, and of strong commitment to peace realization and world legitimacy.

 In the Arab masses and Syrians, the late president put his deep trust; they were one of the main sources of his power, and the driving force and objective for every measure and step taken. His 1970 Correction Movement targeted the majority, if not all. The masses, especially the millions of Syrians, were led out of chaos and coups to the shores of safety and rest on the long so far running march of building, development and modernization. The late president built on the rubbles of pre-1970; 30 years later, the masses voted for President Bashar, who non-stopping has been working to build on the achieved and accomplished during the said 30 glorious years. Remarkably, the symphony was orchestrated to the pulse of the public, their satisfaction and desire. New democratic institutions, constitution, organizations were enshrined; equality, justice the rule of law and its precedence did prevail. Redistribution of resources to suffice all, everybody was judged in terms of how much work and effort, not of what color or origin. The more you belong to your country, the more you deserve. This was a turning transitional point in the social life, promotion of peasants and farmers status, lifting of restrictions on political parties and on freedom of speech, emancipation of women and so many others.

The liberation Arab land occupied by Israel was always, and ever is, the objective and noble aim. For the sake of peace, a just war was launched. It was a war in defense of world peace and security, hence no peace and security without the liberation of the 1967 occupied land. This compelled the other side , some years later, following a further dealt blow and defeat in Lebanon, thanks to the late president for defending and preserving of its present demographic mosaic, to unwillingly take part in Madrid Conference, dragging peace efforts into years of procrastination and futility as Mr. Shamir pledged. During 10 years of on and off rounds of peace talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of peace, others fell into the trap of behind curtains deformed deals! Such a deviation from Late Assad’s long sought for Arab solidarity and coordination did yield the fruits of Adam’s apple. You have by now to pluck the thorns from your hands by your bleeding without-fingers-hand! The issue of the liberation and return is still for us, as defined and underlined by the great leader of Syria’s most turbulent phase of foreign conspiracies and plots. 242, 338, UN Charter and resolutions are not only the most quoted terms of reference by Syrians worldwide, but also the most frequently repeated guidelines and principles used by the late president. These two resolutions besides 425 , not to mention Beirut’s Initiative, still dominate the political agenda in our country. Unfortunately, the other side has developed a UN Phobia, not even to mention any UN terms of reference. Israel has developed a complex of fear from its past, rather than capitalizing on the suffering imposed by others; Moslems defended Jews, when the world let them down. The Sephardem are those of Spain, when the origin of the world itself means the prosperous Jews of Spain under the protection of Arabs. Unfortunately, Israel paid no heed to the serious honest commitment of the late president to just and comprehensive peace. The Israeli side summarized the dispute as a matter of a few meters, when it was indeed a struggle between liberation and occupation, dignity and humiliation, logic and illogic. One would have no wonder that the assassination of Mr. Rabin was merely a further step on the long way of aborting every peace effort, and so were the Israeli ongoing slander campaigns of misinformation and distortion against Syria and Lebanon. Peace won’t only secure the interests of the oppressed but more that of Israel itself. So far, the majority in this part of the region are more than willing to build on the accomplished on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of peace, and restart from where the talks broke off; it is a win-win solution for all.

Arab solidarity was and is still the unaccomplished goal. The late President nobly shelved every grievances and plot hatched by some close Arab neighbors and brothers against the stability of the country, for its modern reconstruction paid the most expensive. To the disappointment of many trouble makers, Syria withstood and survived every plot including the recently disclosed assassination bid against the late Assad’s life in Geneva by the presently deposed butcher of Iraq and the once used to be the US puppet leader. Actually, the repeated calls by the late president for a further Arab solidarity have been recently felt so direly needed for, in light of recent tragedies imposed on a fragmented in tatters Arab World! We do miss you especially in these dark times of twisted facts, unjust and groundless accusations, and denial of saving lives!

Further, the United Nations umbrella, Charter, and role have proved themselves to, as the late President for all his life held, the only possible exit out from the region dark tunnel. This exit is sadly still blocked and hindered by selectivity and multi standardization of world affairs and people destiny. Such a blind approach is still leading the region into the more of bloodshed and massacres. As long as big powers think of the region crises in terms of their own interests and election campaigns, no just solution can be found. Great decisions need great leaders, the decision of peace is the greatest and most noble of all. Neither the recent statements by Mr. Bush, nor by his ‘’ Man of peace", not even by the de facto appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority can make peace. The only way to peace is a unanimous reinvigoration of dormant peace on all tracks, where the occupiers would in full withdraw from the 1967 occupied territories. This necessitates renunciation of every act of violence and aggression by Israel, which usually perpetrates a massacre or carry out a large scale assassination bid before every glimmer of hope for peace realization! As the late president did believe, separate and one-by-one track tackling of the region problems, mainly caused by the Israeli occupation of the land, can never end violence and counter violence, never ends occupation and resistance; but will further aggravate and deteriorate conditions. The interlink and connectedness among tracks of peace have for long been the way out; Whether others would work accordingly or not depends on how much they are to be honestly involved and indulged in the process of peace making.

Another strong deep convention held by the late president was to resist occupation. Resisting and repelling aggressors has been the oldest practice by Man against every force of tyranny and oppression including that of nature. Once occupation ends, there is no justification for armed resistance against the other side. It might be changed into civilized peaceful resistance against acts of subjugations, hegemony and domination! The South of Lebanon was liberated, and so the remaining of the occupied would soon be. International ignorance of the late president 1980’s calls for a clear-cut definition of terrorism and distinction between resistance and terrorism went unheeded. The world had at large to pay for such carelessness and to bear the evil consequences of terrorism. To the disadvantage of every human, in a very short time in the aftermath of the late president untimely demise, the world had been swept by a wave of terrorist attacks by some outlawed gangs, which once were groomed up and patronized by the so called world big powers under different silly pretexts! Whether they be to encounter the then Soviet impact, Islamic Revolution in Iran, pan-Arab nationalism, or in the nearby surrounding to counter the influence of the nowadays under house arrest chairman. Dr. Faustus has to pay for his signed contract with the devil! The evil Lucifier and Mephostophilos caused unfortunately the massacring of many innocent civilians worldwide. The present wanted dead or alive forces of hatred are no more the closet allies of the so-called land of the free! What is even more painful happened when others tried to export their hand-made rotten and evil products to the victimized! Now that the region countries shelter the millions of the disposed refugees, that the press offices are closed, who is to be held accountable? Is it the generous who host them; or the oppressors who uprooted them? Is it the oppressed or the oppressor? If it is the oppressed, the world has to wait ,yet longer, for the more of chaos, killing and bloodshed! If not, the oppressors should by now have realized the futility of alliances with evil; so that a new chapter of coexistence, peace, and security for all can be written.

 Actually, an objective transparent reading for the glorious chapters of the late president’s epics would, undoubtedly, lead to the conclusion that the world has lost with this untimely demise, a staunch fighter for just and comprehensive peace, a strong advocate of tolerance, coexistence, and noble dignified life. The leader, who has never surrendered nor ceded a grain of the holy land, passed away only in body. It is an international loss by all accounts. To what extent the other side would capitalize and take advantage of Syria today’s honest and sincere peace commitments, and of her fight against terrorism, poverty and backwardness is still vague and ambiguous among different issued contradicting signals. Our loss has been so great; real estimation of and consideration for the needs and necessities of the public grievances and worries should be there! Modernization and development, needed for by all considering the natural course of changes, do need a different approach, especially by those who still occupy the land and kill the people, so that we all become blessed peacemakers to the rest of the great leader’s soul in his grave, a different grave which exists in every white beating heart.

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim