State owned Qatari propaganda bullhorn Al-Jazeera has tried to link Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad with the American far-right and in particular with the man currently under arrest for yesterday’s vehicle ramming incident in the United States.
First of all, Bashar al-Assad is a socialist. He is a member of Syria’s ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. Although the clue is in the name, it helps to understand the intellectual origins of Ba’athism.
The three leading founders of Ba’athism Salah al-Din al-Bitar, Zaki al-Arsuzi and Michel Aflaq were all Syrian Arabs, Aflaq being a Christian Arab with Salah and al-Arsuzi were Muslims. Ba’athism’s essence combines traditional Arab cultural values with the anti-imperialist concept of Arab nationalism while harnessing the ideas of traditional socialism as both a bulwark against imperialist aggression and as a means of allowing post-colonial peoples to elevate their economic independence efficiently and rapidly.
Ba’athism, unlike Marxist-Leninism is not anti-religious and encourages the integration of Islam and Christianity with modern forms of government. Ba’athist organisations throughout the Arab world continue to attract all varieties of both Muslim and Christian men and women. Religious tolerance under a secular government and female rights are key features of Ba’athism.
But somehow Al-Jazeera thinks this philosophy is somehow a talking point of the America far-right.
The following is a quote from an Al-Jazeera piece on the man whose car was used in the attack on marches in Virginia.
“Others (other far-right Americans) showed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who alt-rightists and other far-right activists have publicly stood with in recent months”.
There are several grave problems with this statement. Most so-called far-right and alt-right groups online are a combination of parody, semi-intelligible and often random rage, support for the iconography of Adolf Hitler and extreme hatred of anything that actually is or falsely assumed to be Islamic or Arabic in nature. This is hardly a place where the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party would find support and in fact it does not find support in such places.
Of course many people in the United States and throughout the world support the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party of the Syrian President. They support it because they generally prefer a secular tolerant vision for the Middle East to the extremist Wahhabi Sunni dictatorship that the terrorists fighting the Syrian government seek to establish.
People who support a secular, tolerant Syria are not far right, they are best called ‘moderates’. Ironically, the Wahhabi extremists were called ‘moderate rebels’ by the US, Turkish, Qatari and Saudi media throughout the duration of the conflict. A more accurate term for such people might be the far-right of the Middle East or perhaps better yet ‘alt-Islam’.