Backing the uprising in Syria?

Some people think the U.S. has played a background role in fomenting political dissent in Syria.

The uprising in Syria is turning ugly, said Pakistan’s Dawn in an editorial. Over the course of a month of pro-democracy demonstrations, more than 200 people have been killed. “There may not yet be bloodletting of Libyan proportions, but the Baathist regime has been no less ruthless,” stationing snipers to pick off unarmed demonstrators. After security forces killed 11 people this weekend, the protests spread to multiple cities as tens of thousands of people chanted anti-regime slogans. President Bashar al-Assad promised to lift the country’s emergency law, in place for five decades, but protesters were not appeased. They are now demanding the release of political prisoners and the end of the ruling Baath party’s grip. It’s a dangerous moment. And unlike in Libya, Syria’s “strategic position” and its stance as “Israel’s most implacable enemy” mean that U.S. or NATO intervention to protect civilians is highly unlikely.

Who is behind these violent protests? asked Ali Gamalo in Syria’s Tishreen. Just consider “who benefits by plunging Syria into the hell of chaos.” The answer is Israel, of course—and the United States. The U.S. has been “besieging” Syria for years now, invading our neighbor Iraq and “rolling its tanks right up to our border.” It has even falsely accused us of killing the former prime minister of Lebanon. It’s obvious that the U.S. is behind these anti-regime demonstrations. “Yes, the Syrian people want freedom and social justice and to cancel the emergency law,” but we want these things achieved “with security and stability,” not with violent revolt.

The U.S. is fomenting the rebellions all across the Arab world, said Nasser Al-Sahli in Syria’s Al Watan. After its “defeat in Iraq,” where it “failed to impose its lie of freedom and liberation,” the U.S. is now trying to sow dissent across the Arab region. That’s because, with a government “controlled primarily by far-right lobbies allied with the fascist Zionists,” the U.S. wants to punish all Arabs for our support of the just Palestinian cause.

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There’s a grain of truth in the theory that the U.S. has had a hand in the Syrian uprising—but only a grain, said Liam Stack in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Washington Post just published an exposé alleging that the State Department has been funding Syrian opposition groups for the past five years. Citing WikiLeaks documents, the report says the U.S. has given at least $6 million to Syrian anti-government organizations. But Syrian activists say that help came only through donations to nongovernmental organizations. Barada TV, a pro-democracy Syrian news channel based in London, for example, denied taking money directly from the U.S. government. “I think this is an attempt to delegitimize the independence of our content,” said founder Malik al-Abdeh, “because many in the Arab world don’t trust America.” And in any event, it appears that the “secret financing” may have ended last year—well before the uprising began.

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