While the Levant Burns, the Region’s Non-Arab Societies Get on With Life

COMMENT

by Aboud Dandachi
Two contrasting parades. (left) Istanbul saw its biggest ever Gay Pride Parade on the same day ISIS announced the establishment of their Caliphate. (right) Shia militias parading on the streets of Baghdad.

Two contrasting parades. (left) Istanbul saw its biggest ever Gay Pride Parade on the same day ISIS announced the establishment of their Caliphate. (right) Shia militias parading on the streets of Baghdad.

During my university studies in Jordan, I had the good fortune of studying under some superb Iraqi professors. Iraqi engineers and scientists were acknowledged as being the very best in the Arab world, and Jordan offered a rare outlet for the talents of the heavily sanctioned Iraqi people.
In the aftermath of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam’s Baathist regime, there was widespread optimism that after decades of war and sanctions, Iraq could finally live up to its potential.
The only Arab country with oil, water and native talent in abundance, Iraq should have experienced a veritable renaissance in the years that followed, an economic boom to rival that of 1970s Gulf states.
Alas, today the country stands on the brink of disintegration, yet another Arab country on the road to failed statehood.
The mayhem and chaos prevalent in the region has caused nearby non-Arab societies to band together in an effort to keep the flames of failed statehood at bay, and the first fruits of that co-operation has been shipments of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan, to Israel via Turkey.
In the same week that ISIS took over large swathes of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan managed to sell several shipments of oil to Israel via Turkey. While Lebanon, Syria and Iraq may be in differing stages of burning their own houses down, the non-Arab societies of the region have apparently decided to bypass the entire sorry mess, and work together to get on with the business of life.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Turkey’s shifting priorities. In a very informative article for Al-Arabiya, the Turkish political analyst Ceylan Özbudak laid out the history of Turkey’s attempts at increased engagement with its neighbors to the south.
But even the best of intentions will amount to little when one’s prospective trading and diplomatic partners are dysfunctional and self destructive. When they look upon the chaos that has come to define much of the Middle East, the Turks can hardly be blamed for pivoting back to Europe and former Soviet republics.
The last few weeks have also seen a vast improvement in the prospects for an independent Kurdistan. A month ago, I personally would have found the mere suggestion of an independent Kurdish state abhorrent, as it would have by necessity entailed being carved out of at least two Arab states.
Today, in the light of the situations in both Syria and Iraq, one can no longer in good conscience begrudge the Kurds their desire to break away from the monumental colossal mess that is the Arab world.
Heck, even now uncountable multitudes of Syrians and Iraqis are taking refuge in Kurdish controlled areas, fleeing the mayhem back home. If the Kurds can make a good go of statehood, then so be it.
As for my home country of Syria, Bashar Assad has from day one claimed that the revolution against his family’s decades old rule was a “plot designed to destroy the nation”. Bravo Eye Doctor, no “plot” could have possibly dreamed of destroying a nation so thoroughly as you have managed to do, or been manipulated into doing.
Which is not to let the political opposition off the hook. In the same week as ISIS announced their establishment of a “Caliphate” straddling the Syria-Iraq border, a major opposition faction fired its entire senior military command, only for the officers in question to be reinstated by a faction within that faction.
Three years into the war, and Syrians are still learning that it is not enough to raise the banner of revolution against a despised and hated tyrant; you have to have something to replace said tyrant after the hangman has done his job.
There will inevitably be some who will blame most or all of the region’s woes on the scheming and machination of external Western powers (ironically most of these die-hard deniers will themselves be living in Europe or North America).
Yes, the 2003 American invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq did not help matters. But there is only so far one can go in “blaming Bush” for Iraq’s present woes. Outside of Baghdad, there is an entire camp housing tens of thousands of Iraqi widows. These widows have been abandoned by one and all.
It certainly wasn’t George Bush Jr. who prevented the dysfunctional Iraqi state and society from assuming its responsibilities towards these war widows. And the Americans can hardly be blamed for the unbelievable fiasco of an Iraqi parliament at war with itself, its members unable to even speak to one another at such a critical time in the country’s history.
The Arab world does not work, and its failures stands in stark contrast to the success of the non-Arab societies around it. Even Iran, sanctioned, socially and economically backwards Iran, under the rule of a primitive Ayatollocracy stuck in the stone-ages, still manages to produce scientific and engineering accomplishments that far outstrips anything to come out of the Arab world.
To say nothing of well nigh hopeless gap between Israel and its Arab neighbors by every conceivably measurable criteria. Talk about depressing.
Almost as depressing as seeing countless mindless idiots in the West Bank and Gaza sporting “three fingered salutes” to gloat and celebrate over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Or those same idiots smashing up the ambulance that came to take away the bodies of the murdered teens. Wow, apparently we don’t need to wait for ISIS to take over our lands before some of us start to act like bloody Dawa’esh.
It is a sad state of affairs when nihilistic organizations that glorify barbaric suicide as the ultimate act of heroism, are seen to be preferable to the state. A state that makes ISIS and Al-Qaeda look good in comparison is not a state worth saving.
And societies that can offer no choices except a repressive, despotic state or repressive, terrorist entities, are societies that deserve to fail.

Aboud DandachiAboud Dandachi is an activist from the Syrian city of Homs, currently residing in Istanbul. He has been cited on issues relating to the Syrian conflict in the BBC, NPR, LA Times, the Guardian, Al-Arabiya and Turkiye Gazetesi. Aboud’s articles have been republished on numerous media outlets including Daily Sabah, Elder of Ziyon, EA Worldview, and Frontpage Mag. Aboud can be followed on Twitter @AboudDandachi and at http://adandachi.com/istanbul/

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