FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Syrian Mousetrap

by AFSHIN RATTANSI

The current cast of the longest-running play in the world is ready for its changeover – and that doesn’t just refer to hegemonic power-shifts in theatres of war. The Mousetrap, showing in the West End of London and currently starring Georgina Sutcliffe was written by that old Syria resident, Agatha Christie. The cast of the play which celebrates its diamond jubilee along with the British Queen, this year, changes every ten months. When the present cast started, Syria became the first country ever to be saved by a third double veto cast by Russia and China at the UN Security Council.

Christie and her archaeologist husband, Max Mallowan once stayed at the chimerical Baron Hotel near the old Orient Express terminus in Syria’s second city of Aleppo. From the balcony of the Baron’s room 215, the sham independence of Syria, itself, was declared by the colonial puppet King Faisal I of Iraq. I’m not sure, though, that Christie’s room on the second floor even has the original art deco furniture I saw when I visited, eighteen months ago. Who knows what priceless artefacts have been ransacked in Aleppo…Palmyra…the Dead Cities? Aleppo’s Baron Hotel, where spies drank under the Ottomans and which hosted Lawrence of Arabia, Charles de Gaulle, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and, of course, Syria’s former president, Hafez Al Assad is now rocked by the sounds of a lethal proxy war that may have already taken the lives of up to 20,000 people. NATO powers have shown themselves every bit as eager to prolong the conflict as they did in Yugoslavia or Palestine. At the UN Security Council, U.S., French and UK leaders would not even countenance peace talks between the warring parties as suggested by China and Russia.

Secular Syria, in the heart of the Middle East, is being slandered on mainstream news every day by a propaganda campaign all too easily coordinated by intelligence agents mandated by President Obama. The incompetence that led to Obama’s ‘secret’ intelligence authorization being leaked to the international media will not deter incompetent war reporters from singing the neoliberal party line on 24 hour television news channels. One wouldn’t put it past U.S. or UK networks for news bulletins to carry celebrations of rebels wearing actual “Al Qaeda” logos on their bandanas. It seems as if Washington desires to destroy Syria at whatever cost, in human life, regional chaos or 9/11 blowback. White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor merely declined to comment on reports of clandestine U.S. organisational support for the ‘secret’ base on Syria’s northern border established by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Will U.S.-taxpayers even be told their dollars are going into the hands of ‘Al Qaeda’? Will the U.S. Southern Bible Belt be told that a French Catholic Bishop on the ground is reporting tens of thousands of Christians driven out of Homs by de facto NATO policy?

Agatha Christie took the name “The Mousetrap” from the drama-within-a-drama in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Prince wants to gauge the reaction of King Claudius to a play about a regicide and, sure enough, when Claudius leaves the room, Hamlet knows who killed his father. Neither Beijing, Moscow or Damascus needs such a tool to detect responsibility for the mass killing that continues to destabilise the region. Yet, every day, the play is repeated: in the form of televised reactions from politicians in DC, Paris, London and Brussels. There will be no international help for rebels fighting brutal dictators in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain –instead arms exports, Jubilee lunches with the British Queen and even a Grand Prix. Meanwhile, for Syria, there is propaganda masked as journalism in the service of Islamist rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad. As recounted in Counterpunch, Zionists in Tel Aviv name-check the Islamists to visiting Russian leaders as if they were just another branch of the Israeli army.

Some dramatic criticism such as that by Margaret Litvin at Yale has noted that post-1975 Arabic performances of Hamlet put Claudius at the centre, inherently arguing Claudius’ irresistible Leviathan power. The effect was to transform Hamlet into a demonstration of the futility of political action in the Arab world, a pessimism of the will. Ironically, in The Mousetrap, Georgina Sutcliffe’s Mollie Ralston, muses “perhaps you can’t trust anybody – perhaps everyone is a stranger.” And that line finds echoes amidst the tragic ranks of those Syrian dissidents desperate for reform but who are steadily realising that the uprising against President Assad has taken a darker form, one that is now, surely, not able to be rescued under current conditions. You can’t trust anybody.

Maybe one shouldn’t be surprised. Syria since the post-Bashar rapprochement of the West seemed a jelly-like place where the rich and liberal elites educated their children abroad only to return and seek havoc with the best intentions. In off-the-record conversations in Damascus with senior politicians, one got the impression they weren’t aware that liberal economic reform was a Trojan horse. Those educated abroad were coming back thinking that privatisation was a universal panacea which Bashar al-Assad was holding back. Well, now they know what the real agenda is and that everyone is a stranger. The Western economic crisis is lesson enough as to what economic liberalisation would have done to Syria. Gadaffi made that mistake and look what happened to him. The Syrian leadership had more sense of history in curbing neoliberal economic programs but then they felt in their bones that their cities were once the wonders of the world.

Only comprehensive peace talks involving all regional players will begin to undo what has been done. NATO attempts at sectarianizing Syria as it did in Iraq – the mainstream media parrot the line that the country is run by Alawites – is particularly scurrilous in a land which has taken more refugees per capita than any other. This is fertile ground to plant the seeds of colonial ‘divide and rule,’ but so far the worst NATO-backed atrocities seem to be being committed by foreign insurgents. Nevertheless, Beijing and Moscow must act now. Otherwise, if Assad stays on or in the unlikely event he falls, unfolding events in Syria will be a mousetrap for hegemonic powers that spell misery for the Middle East and beyond, most strikingly those in American skyscrapers.

AFSHIN RATTANSI runs Alternate Reality Productions Ltd. One of its commissions is Double Standards, a political satire show for Press TV, broadcast every Saturday at 2230 GMT. Shows can be accessed via www.doublestandardstv.com. He can be reached viaafshinrattansi@hotmail.com

Afshin Rattansi is host of RT’s award-winning Going Underground news and current affairs show broadcast around the world. He will be joining Julian Assange on the eve of the referendum for a live webcast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as well as a special edition of Going Underground on Saturday.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail