Dear Mr Carr,
Your responses to points made to critics display a lack of knowledge of the complexity of the situation in Syria and the lengths the ‘enemies’ of Syria will go to in order to destroy what they see as a ‘heretical regime’. What has been missing in the Australian media (and your comments) is a thorough discussion of many elements contributing to the crisis. For example:
1. The role of Saudi Arabia. Why does it want to destroy Syria? Is it because it sees it as one way of prolonging the life of its monarchy or is it because it is one way of spreading Wahhabism? More importantly, what has led Australia to be allied with Saudi Arabia against a government and country whose people enjoy more social freedoms than virtually any other people in the ME? How will the spread of Wahhabism help the lives of Syrian women? Or do we consider this question insignificant because of more important loyalties – “all the way with the US and Tel Aviv” no matter what the consequences for 22 million innocent people?
2. The role of Qatar. Has Qatar’s wealth gone to the head of its emir/monarch and his family? It and Saudi Arabia are the two Gulf countries intent on destroying Syria, having committed vast amounts of money to the task with arms and ‘war propaganda’. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the only two ‘Wahhabi’ states. Shouldn’t it be questioned why they happen to share such an intense dislike of Syria? Or if not of Syria, of the president who is committed to maintaining a secular state and who, many Syrians believe, is committed to reform? Commentators damn secular Syria based on what? Reports from Al-Jazeera, the media outlet now controlled by the emir and a voice for Qatar’s foreign policy? Highly regarded journalists have resigned from Al-Jazeera in protest against its propagandising of the Arab Spring, particularly in regard to Bahrain and Syria. Many of Al-Jazeera’s reports have been shown to be based on false witnesses or fabricated videos. (check the story of Sari Saoud, the young boy killed in Homs last year reported on Al-Jazeera as a victim of soldiers. His story is just one of thousands – victims of militias in Syria.)
3. What is the ‘ideology’ which prompts people to kill for ‘freedom’ in Syria? Freedom from what? If you say the “Alawi regime” I suggest you examine the background of the members of parliament, the ministry, and the top security and military officers. “Freedom” for Syrian women, perhaps? If that is your answer, perhaps you should check the videos of sermons by Sheik Qaradawi . ‘Freedom’ from violence? Again check the sermons of the sheiks that inspire the armed insurgency.
4. It’s been suggested by some commentators that it seems to be the time for a Sunni resurgence and if that is what the people of the ME want, so be it. But that is assuming there is one ‘Sunni’ mind set, something which is far from true. Check the number of ministers and members of parliament in Syria who are Sunni. Check the footage of rallies showing support for the president – every woman in a hijab could be assumed to be Sunni and many of those without would be as well. An imam in Midan, a religiously conservative part of Damascus, was assassinated earlier this year; his crime: he preached peaceful reform. The son of the Mufti of Syria was assassinated along with his university professor. His crime: his father is a peace maker (militant members of the opposition would use other language to describe him; “a regime stooge”, perhaps.) One Damascene was assassinated after standing in the council elections last year; he was a Sunni. There are whirling dervishes in Syria; Islam in Syria has been influenced by Sufism for hundreds of years. Are the battle lines simple ones as most commentators suggest?
5. In an interview on the ABC you justified your decision to expel Mr Jawdat Ali (who I understand is a Sunni, by the way) by saying we have a ‘responsibility to protect’ (Gareth Evans’ rhetoric). I was expecting you would add that we have a responsibility to protect peace-loving Syrians from the Saudi arms dealer Bandar Bin Sultan;from the cleric Adnan Arour, who since 2011 has been encouraging his loyal followers to kill Alawis and any one else who supports the government and to mince up their bodies; from Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi who has said on Al-Jazeera it is ok to kill 1/3 of the Syrian population if that is necessary to rid Syria of its ‘heretical’ government; from the jihadists who have rushed from various parts of the world to take part in the killing sprees; from the suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries sure that they are right to oppose this government because everyone else in the world does (even Bob Carr and Bob Brown); from the Salafi jihadists in Lebanon who have declared the Syrian government a target (BTW it was a group of Salafis who murdered the Italian activist in Gaza early last year); from all those at demonstrations who have chanted “Send Christians to Beirut and Alawis to their graves” (it is clear how you can send someone to their grave, but how can you force someone out of their country?). From Al-Qaeda. Shouldn’t we feel a ‘responsibility to protect’ people in Syria from all of the above? The Syrians who are the witnesses to the devastation of the bombs yell their anger at the cameras and curse Saudi Arabia, Qatar, America and Qaradawi. Maybe they know more than us.
6. Amnesty US is headed by Suzanne Nossel who used to be a State Department official and sidekick of Holbrook, US representative in the UN. She wrote a paper called ‘smart power’, which outlines what the US can get for itself without appearing to be heavy handed in a George Bush way. Could this explain the partisan stand Amnesty has taken from the beginning of the crisis in Syria and its refusal to report the killings of three children on 17 April 2011,and that of three farmers the same month (they are the deaths I know have been reported to Amnesty by people in Melbourne.)
7. Maybe you are a follower of Robert Fisk, so you trust him to do all the research necessary to understand Syria. The fact that he is a follower of Walid Jumblatt who is notorious for his opportunism and who has now chosen to support Saad Hariri and Samir Gea Gea should indicate where his articles are going to go. (By the way, Gea Gea, a Lebanese ‘Christian’ was imprisoned for a bomb attack on a church which killed many people in the congregation; the attack was carried out in order to place blame on Muslims. That is the sort of action which happens when the most unscrupulous wish to destroy their perceived ‘enemies’.)
8. You support tighter sanctions against Syria. Have you considered that more economic pressures will cause even greater trauma and stress for ordinary people and it may mean some ‘give up’ and in desperation become mercenaries, paid to kill by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and perhaps trained by the CIA or French forces (check Wikileaks cables)?
9. No doubt your history teachers and lecturers encouraged you to check many different sources, to ask many questions, before you drew conclusions, and often it was expected that those conclusions would have unanswered questions. Major-General Mood, the head of the UN observer team in Syria, has said the situation surrounding the massacre in Houla was ‘murky’ and “Whatever I learned on the ground in Syria…. is that I should not jump to conclusions.” Yet, those so far away present such simplistic certainty.
There is so much more that could should be said about the crisis in Syria. It is not being said in our media, nor by our politicians. I hope at least it is recorded on blogs for people to consider and as a resource for future students of international relations and war. Lindsay Tanner has written about the ‘dumbing down’ of our democracy. The people of Syria are victims of this.
If you publish this on your blog, I thank you. It is my wish that journalists begin to ask you some of the tough questions that need to be asked. That we in Australia act in a manner befitting a peace loving people.
NB: Most comments on Senator Carr’s page support his decision to expel the Syrian diplomats. However, there are others, such as the one above, which criticise it.