Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:05 | SYDNEY
Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:05 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: The good guys in Syria

20 August 2012 17:27

Ghassan Salem writes:

I read with interest the blog by Mr Roger Shanahan about the good guys in Syria's mess, and I have some comments about it. Let me first say that I'm a Lebanese who lived and fought the war between 1975 and 1990 (I stopped fighting in 1979), so I have some 'experience' in civil wars, and what happens to people fighting them.

In every army, militia or fighter group you have people that start out and continue to have some good level of ethical conduct, which usually down to:

  • Don't kill if you can avoid it.
  • Don't mis-treat prisoners.
  • Don't hurt civilians.

Beside these guys there are those who are not that strict or who don't hold these points high enough, if at all. Sometimes you try to uphold these principles, but it's a very tough task, especially when the war you're fighting gets very dirty. Let me give you an example: if you're a Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighter who really advocates these principles, and you got several family members killed in the Houla massacre, where more than a hundred person were killed, some of them kids, you'll have a very hard time after that to restrain yourself, and much harder time restraining the others. Let's not forget one thing: there are no clean wars, and there will never be. There will always be atrocities committed by one side or the other. When these start happening, there's no easy way to stop them.

It's an easy excuse to say: look, some FSA members are committing atrocities, so we should not help them, they are as bad as the Assad regime itself.

Roger also quotes the Libyan-Irish fighter stating that the fight ' about the Sunni Muslims of Syria taking back their country and pushing out the minority that have been oppressing them for generations'. Well, what's wrong with the majority of 75% or more of the people wanting to overthrow a minority rule 'that oppressed them for generations'? That's what democracy is supposed to mean after all. And when you know the crimes committed by this regime throughout it's 40 years of reign, would it surprise anyone if the Sunnite wants it over? The few massacres that the Syrian army perpetrated in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s are enough to send this regime to The Hague war crimes tribunal.

Being allied with autocratic rules, in this case Qatar's and Saudi Arabia's, to help overthrow Bashar El Assad should not make this task less ethical. Anybody think that the Chinese or even Russian systems are any better than these? We still deal with them, on all levels, with no shame. It's not the Syrian people's fault that Qatar is not a democracy. Letting them face the horrors Bashar is hurtling at them without any help is more ethical?

The thing is that this is not a wonderful world, issues are never black and white. In every part of the map there are shades of grey.

Thanks a lot for your thought provoking articles.