The Left Is With Bashar, and Also the Right

The Left Is With Bashar, and Also the Right

Hazem Saghieh |

Ten days ago, a large delegation of far-right European parties visited Syria and met with President Bashar al-Assad, showering praise on him and his regime. One of the members of the delegation was Nick Griffin, head of the British National Party (BNP), in addition to parliamentarians representing the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), the French National Front founded by the infamous Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Italian Tricolour Flame Movement, the Swedish National Democrats Party, and the Belgian National Front.

The common trait among all these factions is that they come from fascist backgrounds or are offshoots of fascist parties. At home, they have anti-immigration platforms, particularly as far as Muslim immigrants are concerned, and are known for their hyperbole concerning the ‘threat’ of the so-called ‘Islamization of Europe.”

This right-wing delegation, on its way to meet Assad, could well have met with a leftwing delegation just leaving a meeting with Assad as well, led by people like the Briton George Galloway or the Frenchman Alain Gresh.

With a little imagination, one can see the two delegations, the one going in and the one leaving, issuing a joint statement where the supposed differences between the right and the left disappear, to focus instead on two common points:

First, that the ‘secular’ Syrian regime is facing a radical extremist Islamic threat, and second, that this same regime is standing against the U.S. attack on the region, its peoples, and its riches.

Observers had seen something similar happen in Iraq shortly before the 2003 war. Back then, some of the poles of the left and the right in Europe flocked to meet with Saddam Hussein, and praise his steadfastness and denounce his enemies, the American invaders.

The two sides both have deep reservation on parliamentary democracy, going back to their theoretical references, and both are unabashedly hostile to the United States and everything American. They both, in varying degrees, harbor anti-Semitic views, but which are much more dramatic among the rightwing parties. Hostility to Muslims, too, is a shared feature between them.

This brand of the right does not conceal its vitriol when it comes to its attitudes on Islam and the Muslims, and makes issues like identity, immigration, and hostility to Muslim immigrants, and even violent attacks against them, the basis of its policies and practices.

And this brand of the left, in the name of standing up to ‘American imperialism’ and siding with those who do too, seems to find it too much for the Muslims of Iraq, and after them the Muslims of Syria, to demand their right to end mass murder against them, choose their own political system, and have the same freedoms enjoyed by the Europeans.

In such a climate, whether rightwing or leftwing, secularism is championed along with tyranny, that is, as a punishment against all backward people, while exonerating military regimes from all responsibility.

In both cases, individually or together, it is clear that the old Europe with its two marginal and meager wings, on the sidelines of democratic life, supports Bashar al-Assad and sponsors him.

As for Assad himself, who is being celebrated, he is no exception to the longstanding Arab political tradition of opportunism, which affixes every odd thing to anything else, and then welds its conflicting features together with much blood, while shouting slogans against America and Israel!