Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The definition of the Shabiha | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If you want to avoid moral or material responsibility for any error or crime, you must choose between three options: lie and stick to your permanent denial, pass the subject on to a fact-finding committee that does not reach a conclusion, or say: “let us first establish the facts”, and query the nature of the crime in the first place! What is the definition of a killer or a victim? What the ruling regime in Syria has done is all three at once: It has denied, it has called for a commission of enquiry, and it has entered into a maze of interpretations!

The regime denied that massacres were being carried out against peaceful, unarmed citizens, claiming that the violent acts were legitimate forms of self-defense, or in defense of the homeland and public interests in the face of “armed gangs” that want to destroy legitimacy for the benefit of foreign powers aspiring against Syria, the country which champions “resistance” and “opposition”.

The ruling regime in Syria announced that it would form committees to investigate any accusations or violations, and also form committees for political reform and to fight against corruption in all sectors of the state, and to enact drastic constitutional reforms.

The third procedure, and this is the crux of the point I would like to make today, is that the regime brought the Arab League, Kofi Annan, and the international community into the labyrinth of the expression favored by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: “before we debate, let us define the concepts”!

If we said, for example: Why have the Golan Heights not been liberated yet? He would say to you “Let us first define the concept of ‘liberation’! Is a physical liberation of the land possible without liberating its sovereignty?” If we said “we want political reform”, he would reply “What do you mean by reform? Do you mean the Western style that has failed, or the Eastern European style, which is still on trial? We have no other options except the Baathist nationalist model!”

All of this nonsense has exhausted the great Syrian people, it has distorted the wonderful minds of the Syrian elite, and it has squandered the efforts and contributions of the highly active Syrian expat capitalists, present in all corners of the globe from the Gulf to Europe, and from China to Latin America.

During one of the Arab League observer mission’s meetings in Syria, when a complaint was put forward on behalf of the unarmed citizens about the role of the “Shabiha”, who were carrying out massacres against the civilians, a Baathist official began to pose the following question to the observers:

“What do you mean by ‘Shabiha’?” Are they gangs representing a third party, or are they terrorist forces trying to target the al-Assad regime? Or are they nationalist forces that have been mobilized by a conspiracy to seize governance of this country, and so they decided to go down into the streets and defend this great nation and its nationalist regime?!

Is there any way to reply politely to these questions?