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In the modern world of business, the element of marketing is considered a key factor in the success of the commodity. You can’t buy toothpaste if it does not contain the “Fluoride” ingredient. You can’t purchase a detergent if it does not contain bleach, and you can’t buy a bar of soap if it doesn’t contain moisturizer and anti-bacterial products. Marketing experts convinced us that we cannot do without those ingredients in the products we buy. Thus they became a necessity and we “bought” the idea. The same applies to the world of politics. Regimes “sell, market and promote” themselves as being socialist, religious or resistant systems. Here my attention was drawn to the defense mounted by Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, in favor of the Syrian regime and its crackdown against its own people. The regime persists in repressing, killing, injuring, arresting and displacing thousands of Syrian citizens in a brutal manner that has provoked the anger of the free, fair and honest world. Nevertheless, Hassan Nasrallah insists on describing the Syrian regime as “resistant”. I earnestly tried to go through the history of the current regime, which spans over four decades, to detect any feature of the resistance Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah had referred to, but I couldn’t find any.

The only enemy we all agree upon is Israel. There is a vast area of Syrian territory, known as the Golan Heights, which has been under Israeli occupation for over 40 years (I believe this is known to everyone). Resistance should not be confined to liberating the precious territories of South Lebanon, or the Shebaa Farms (which are within Syrian territory, something the Lebanese acknowledge themselves, but were later incorporated into Lebanon’s borders by some unknown power). The Syrian regime invented the idea of “resistance from within”. It introduced Palestinian groups and elements like Ahmed Gabriel and his militias, as well as Abu Marzouq and his elements, to serve as substitutes for Fatah itself or as a means of distorting the Palestinian mood. Of course, Syria’s regime supported the “Amal” movement at one point, until it ceased to be a force of resistance. Afterwards, the regime’s support shifted to its rising rival Hezbollah. The same goes for the other battling factions in Lebanon. However, the Syrian front opposite the Golan Heights remained calmer than a Caribbean resort, with no activists or as much as a mosquito passing through in the summer.

If we want to highlight the effectiveness of the Syrian resistance, we can see it today when confronting its own people demanding freedom, dignity, democracy and the eradication of corruption and tyranny. This popular anger is the outcome of more than 40 years of dominance, oppression, tyranny and the continually depriving the Syrian people of their basic rights. The people were sold a strange and unusual commodity on a daily basis, under the guise of it being the truth. The people were sold dictatorship under the guise of being the rule and will of the nation. They were sold a network of financial corruption behind the façade of socialism. They were sold the idea of power bequeathal under the guise of democracy. They were sold the idea of detention camps behind the façade of security and stability. Nevertheless, Khamenei and Nasrallah still come out and try and sell the idea to the world that what is happening in Syria today is an organized conspiracy, and that we should support the resistant regime.

The revolutionary rulers in Iran began to mark Jerusalem Day on a yearly basis to “kindle” the spirit of resistance. On that day, flags of Hezbollah are raised (as if Hezbollah has obtained an exclusive right to the Palestinian issue). Strangely enough, the Golan Heights are never mentioned in these grand celebrations which occur in Lebanon, Iran, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria (the sites of Iran’s influence as it is commonly known). So why are the Golan Heights always “absent” from resistance rhetoric? This is a question worth asking, especially with the current debate and pressure surrounding the “resistant regime”, as its allies refer to it. Even during the Yom Kippur War, and after Syria’s intervention to quell Lebanon’s Civil War by engaging in multiple battles with all sorts of factions over there, no one saw Syria’s military ordnance moving en masse. The only time we observed Syrian combat vehicles and troops en bloc was during their participation in the Liberation of Kuwait War under the international alliance umbrella. Yet today we see the Syrian military in full flow, committing atrocities against its unarmed citizens in every town and village on Syrian soil using tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft, troops and infantry in an organized and oriented fashion, to quell those calling for freedom, justice, democracy and equality.

There is a secret principle in the world of marketing that is known and applied by specialists with mastery, and that is, if you add any of the following three secret words, your product will sell instantly. The words are “natural”, “ultra” and “extra”. In the world of politics, if you put “Palestine” in your rhetoric, you will acquire credibility and popularity. And if you repeat the word a lot, it will turn into an absolute truth that is not open to doubt. The most important branch of intelligence in Syria today is called Palestine, but it has nothing to do with Palestine itself. Rather it serves as an appropriate name. Even the colors of the Baath party flag look very similar the Palestinian flag itself. This helps to convince the public that they are seeing the same thing, and creates a mental link between the two.

Resistance in the name of Palestine and not the Golan Heights has turned into a commodity that is excellently promoted by some Arab political regimes, which have built their reputation and credibility over the years through raising such a slogan. You can sell a commodity to some people for some time, but not to everyone all the time. If your commodity becomes old and exposed, it loses all value. This is the case today. The Palestinians themselves have become more capable of judging who has traded with their issue effectively, and who has not.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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