Why doesn't the opposition say more about Syria?

Getting some tips on how to deal with dissent.
Getting some tips on how to deal with dissent.

Nicolás Maduro is highly supportive of Syria’s dictatorial mass-murderer Bashar el Assad. He has sent subsidized diesel to Syria. At one point, there was even a nonstop Caracas-Damascus flight. Even now, the government is busy warning the US not to attack Syria, organizing rallies, writing “letters,” and basically covering Assad’s ass while saying nothing of the use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians.

Assad and Maduro? These guys are best buds. While he is enabling Assad’s chemical warfare machine, Maduro gets away with saying “we reject war and we say no to bombs, no to desolation, no to death” … with a straight face.

So why isn’t the opposition talking about this? It’s baffling.

Think of it this way: what, exactly, is preventing Nicolás Maduro from getting his hands on chemical weapons in the future? Scruples? Institutions? A sense that there are some lines he dare not cross?


Of course, Maduro is no Assad, at least not yet. But still, one would think that our opposition leaders would be interested in talking about this a bit more than they have. Instead, they offer a few sound bites, or simply scurry along and change the topic.

With his actions and his words, Maduro is lending support to a deranged nut who flaunts international law and uses weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians. But it seems the opposition only wants to talk about hospitals having no gauze.

True, Capriles has tweeted a thing or two against Assad, but he has said nothing that comes close to a clear position on the Syria conflict, and Venezuela’s role in it. He needs to say more.

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  1. Mass murder gets a pass. From the public. I don’t fault Capriles or the opposition. I mean, this is a regime that has convinced a good chunk of the population that Cuba is to be emulated.

    I think on anything that does not have directly to do with what is going on in the Venezuelan household, the opposition has maybe made a strategic decision not to waste time getting peoples’ attention. That position is defensible . If it is any consolation, I have a hard time believing that the average Russian gives a crap either. I mean, we are talking about a regime that is gassing its citizens. If anyone needs prompting from a political leader on that one, awareness is not going to happen anytime soon. Thank you though for reminding readers of the incredible shame that should hang over those educated people who gain from the Maduro government, support the Maduro government, and should know better.

    • agreed, there’s enough problems at home to keep playing chabe’s ‘intergalactic planetary savior’ (which Maduro is ridiculous at, have you seen his twitter accounts in Arabic and French?)… plus there really is such a lack of trustworthy information on what is going on in Syria that even the British parliament held off on taking a stance, doesn’t seem absurd forthe Venezuelan opposition to do so.

  2. You mean like discussing this http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iran-not-syria-is-the-wests-real-target-8789506.html to get more votes in elections?
    Or better simplify a bit to let the “important parts” of the conflict stand out more clearly to get a more “coherent” picture?
    What assures you that the Capriles conclusions about that very remote region are any bit more informed and less biased than the ideas of a certain group of our german communist party about Venezuela?
    You like it when other people draw simplified conclusions from the political situation of your country?

    Leaving for office to defend this poor, little IT systems in volkswagen against those nice, neat and plain wrong ideas for the next release planning. They will come up.

    • So the attack on Syria is being arranged to get votes?

      Thats a bad joke. The surest way for elected leaders in the west to gain votes would be to politely look the other way, just as they did in the other gas attacks the article mentions. Intervention is very unpopular nowadays!

      By Volkswagen, do you mean Venezuela? I’m guessing your spellcheck got jumbled or you are using some translator (nothing wrong with that).

      • With your firm convictions and idealism you may appear to Middle Easterners as kind of a Carter Center from the right.

        Where have I said that attacking Syria was arranged to get votes?

        Robert Fisk – one of the few Middle East experts I trust – calls an attack on Syria the stupidest War of the West EVER. And he gives some convincing arguments beyond simplistic Neville Chamberlain and drawing a line in the sand against roughs rhetorics (see link above).

        I just propose that we the west accept the limits to our capabilities to solve conflicts in cultures different from ours.

        Interventions are unpopular these days, because we saw quite a few of them in the last years and there is some evidence to consider the results as disillusioning.

        I more than happily work in Germany, land of the unheroic.

        • Land of the un-heroic makes you happy Lemmy? Are you proud as well?

          While I would agree with you about not intervening I am quite sure I do not feel proud or happy about it.I think it is quite shameful that the West has played its cards in such a way that lacked vision and ended up unable to help those in dire need.

  3. I think this particular post lack perspective, it’s perfectly logical that the venezuelan opposition won’t say anything about syria, they can’t support assad because you know, he gas people, and they can’t condemn him either because the sicbi and telesur would repeat continuily for hours that they support the “imperial take over of syria” and that they want the same for venezuela….

    Not long ago while libya was in full revolt telesur had guy after guy before the cameras saying that Kadaffi was a great satesman who only did good for his people, and now they say that syria is a democracy and that the ones who gas people are in the syrian opposition backed of course by the empire, and since no one seems able to prove 100% that assad did it, most countries don’t dare to intervene.

    At best the opposition can condemn the attacks, the rest is a lost argument, they better pick fights they can win, like the economy, insecurity etc, wich they haven’t been very vocal about those lately, they already released a statement weeks ago condemning violence, but in my opinion better let the syrians take care of assad and leave us to try to deal with our own guy the way we can.

    Also I don’t think that maduro need gas to supress us, he can do it throught other means.

  4. ??
    I think Capriles has said enough about Syria already. He said Maduro cares more about the regime of a mass murderer than about the life of Venezuelans. I think that’s a correct statement.

    • I concur and would like to add that it’s probably the most effective he can do. I’m quite certain that a lot of Venezuelans realize Maduro is more concerned to help Assad than to solve the problems of his own country.

      • I think he hasn’t said nearly enough. It’s one thing to “support” Assad, as in taking a position or saying this or that about the need for restraint. It’s quite another to “support” Assad by sending him fuel and money. Maduro has gone out of his way to help Assad, not only rhetorically, but actually help him, with fuel, and money. Hell, we even have a PSUV deputy in Syria *fighting* on the side using Sarin gas!

  5. For a while now I have been unable to take this blog seriously. The posters assume they’re spouting gospel, commenters that digress in opinion get dutifully bashed for not complying (and I’m not talking about the likes of yoyo and gac)… everybody is expected to hear the beat of this blog’s single drum and love it.

    I don’t know why the opposition hasn’t said anything about Syria, but it most likely follows the aforementioned rationale that they’re damned anyway for whichever side they choose. What bothers me is how the Syrian conflict is being addressed as a completely plain, simple conflict between an evil villain dictator and the selfless rebels that want nothing but good for their people, when these rebels have already been infiltrated by extremists from different countries that have the money and the power and don’t give a shit about the Syrian people.

    I care nothing for dictators that insist on remaining forever in power, but I also care nothing for armed forces that cash in on their lack of international appeal to push their bloody agendas, and just because China, Russia and Maduro are siding with said dictator it means the rebels are right, the US has no filthy interest (as if they never did) and the chemical attack definitely came from whence the media claims it did.

    The problem at large is that everybody is looking at this issue like it is a flat, black-and-white conflict, and it isn’t, and the answer can’t be in choosing sides either because there are no good guys in this situation and maybe the opposition’s rock and hard place position isn’t so bad in the end. Maybe that way they end up not choosing either side of a rotten, bloodstained coin.

    • You say that it bothers you that Syria is being addressed as a simple conflict between an evil villain dictator and selfless rebels. Since no one has said anything like this about the rebels, you are setting up a straw man.

      Try this: the nerve gas attack was on a suburb. Civilians. Nerve gas is an unlawful weapon precisely because it cannot be targetted. Once released, it floats on the air, subect to the wind, and kills those who breathe it.

      So the comparison is between the evil dictator and his civilian population, not the rebels. The civilians are the innocent, and deserve the sympathy of every decent person.

    • I think you are putting words in what you see as “the opposition”. We are supposed to discuss about Venezuela first of all. The few things most oppos have said are: 1) that Assad is a dictator and 2) (and that more often) that Maduro should first focus on Venezuela.
      I have an opinion about Syria and I am fully aware things are extremely complex- even if don’t know much on the issue, I have, like Lemmy Caution, read my Robert Fisk, some history books on the region, accounts from friends from the region -.
      But we should be dealing about Venezuela. What else can we say about Syria? Pretend we are experts on the topic? Say we have an opinion about everything on Earth in Venezuelan blogs?
      Are we going to discuss the attitude of Russian forces towards Chechens while we discuss about the fact the teachers in the school where I went as a child earn as little as 300 euros a month (officially)?
      Do we need to express a whole nuanced credo about the situation in Aleppo when we want Venezuela to stop having a murder rate higher than 65 murders per 100 000 inhabitants per year?

    • The problem, Cary, is that you’re viewing things from your point of view only. Let me guess, you’re in the US, right? Well, my point is not at all about Obama and his war machine (take that, Nobel Committee!). My point is that Maduro is siding with a mass murderer … as in physicially siding with him. Regardless of what you think of the rebels, that is something the opposition should highlight more.

    • Cary, perhaps you fail to see the distinction that the use of chemical weapons by rebels is an internal problem into which foreigners should not meddle because of sovereignty of that nation, but the use of chemical weapons by the authorities of a nation is an external problem because no civilian population can be expected to defend itself against its own nation’s military might, so foreigners *must* meddle, or risk being complicit.

      That is, taking down a leader responsible for use of chemical weapons is *not* equivalent to siding with the rebels merely because it happens to be the rebels’ goal, too.

        • Getashrink, breathe. I’ll reply to your questions, but I emphasize that the context of this thread with Cary is different to the context of the other thread you had.

          The use of depleted uranium is controversial, and I don’t agree with its use for ammunition, though I do agree with it for shielding, but I can see the “fair use” argument of those who support its use: the primary use of this material is kinetic destruction, like with standard metal bullets; secondary effects are not the reason for their use, as with lead bullets, which also has toxic repercussions and don’t seem to inspire much controversy.

          When you say “really care about the people in Syria”, you seem to imply that that would be the *only* motivator. I do not believe caring for the people of Syria should be a government’s only, or even its main reason for going to war in Syria. Always remember that a government’s first responsibility should be its own people. But, yes, I do believe the USA government has caring for the people of Syria as at least one of its motivations for intervention. You also have to remember that a government is made up of many people, and I cannot imagine that you would think that every single person involved in this decision is 100% uncaring for the people of Syria.

          As to your other link, yes, I am so cynical that I even believe wars are started just to try out new military equipment, or to keep sufficient numbers of military personnel with field experience, so my reaction to geopolitical reasons for war are with much less surprise than you convey. Again, I remind you, there is never a single reason for going to war, and sometimes not even a single main reason.

    • No one is saying the Syrian insurgents are stainless heroes.

      Many many people are talking about the influence of Al Qaeda and the Moslem Brotherhood in the insurgency.

      You “care nothing for armed forces that cash in on [dictators’] lack of international appeal to push their bloody agendas”.

      Such groups “cash in” by being the only force to act against the dictator. Sunni jihadists gained influence in the Syrian insurgency by showing up with money, arms, and fighters while the U.S. and the West did nothing.

      So there’s a struggle. One side is a deadly enemy (Syria/Iran). The other side isn’t. But you don’t want to get involved, so you let your enemy hammer on the other side till in desperation they accept help from some other enemies of yours. Then condemn them for that. Very sensible.

  6. Capriles stance is exactly right !! Its stupid for the regime to be making such a fuss in defending the moral inmmunity of a government that commits heinous crimes like using poison gas to murder thousands of its innocent people while neglecting the very pressing problems that affect ordinary Venezuelans here now and today . Condemning the sirian government doesnt mean giving the rebels a blank cheque of legitimacy . But the sirian govts actions are unconsciounable an deserve an international response of consequence. They may balk at it because they dont want to help the rebel factions which are not friendly to the west and because of the political use the enemies of the current US and UK govts may make of a military intervention to discredit such govts . But the moral line is absolutely clear , you cant colly moddle a criminal act such as the sirian govt has perpetrated !!

    • But Capriles misses the specificity of the point Juan makes: this isn’t about some hazy, diplomatic/rhetoric “support”. This is about Venezuela actually aiding the Assad regime, materially, though the dispatch of *subsidized* fuel.

      Chamo, we’re SUBSIDIZING mass murder.

      ps: you were doing GREAT on carriage returns, don’t stop!

  7. Talk to Syrians where I live and they’ll tell you that the majority of Syrians are behind Assad because he has kept Islamic militants from gaining power. The West has made huge mistakes in “ridding the Mid-East of its dictators”. Look at the mess they have made in Egypt, Libya, Iraq.. Islamic militants are using the West to help them to take over.

    • What I heard was that non-Islamic groups had the overhand at the start of the Syrian uprising…but the West did nothing and they were progressively replaced by the bearded ones. Now even Muslim Belgian extremists from my neighborhood are going to blow themselves up there. And on the other side is a deputy of the official party from my original country…weird thing.

      Had the West not mess in such a mixed way with Iraq, it would have been able to act here in due time. Now? I don’t see how.

  8. I’m not sure saying “more” about Syria makes sense from an MUD point of view.

    The *specific* point about Venezuela aiding Bashar al-Assad through subsidized fuel sales, on the other hand, is one that MUD should be making more loudly and more often.

    Maduro’s calls for a hands-off approach to a conflict he’s actively participating in is bullshit, and should be called out as such.

    • If, as you say, MUD emphasizes the fact that Maduro is actively participating in the conflict (do you have proof of that? Any links?), then it might be a good idea to talk about Syria, but while doing so, make sure you don’t say anything that sounds like you are supporting a US intervention. It won’t look good if you support the very same people who are hypocrite enough to scream in horror because of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, yet had no problems using depleted uranium bullets in Irak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium#Iraqi_population). That’ll make you look like and idiot AND asshole.

    • The *specific* point about Venezuela aiding Bashar al-Assad through subsidized fuel sales, on the other hand, is one that MUD should be making more loudly and more often.

      Maduro’s calls for a hands-off approach to a conflict he’s actively participating in is bullshit, and should be called out as such.

      Agree with you, Quico.

  9. I have some empathy for Juan’s concern. However, given the limited amount of time, resources, and coverage that the opposition have in the national media (GloboMyopia anyone?), my opinion is that we should continue hitting on Venezuela’s everyday problems.

  10. The issue here is not whether the US or any body else should intervene militarily in Syria , or the manner of such intervention if it is ultimately decided . Thats for the international parties involved in that kind of subject to decide . The issue here is the Regimes support for the Syrian regime and whether it deserves the oppos condemnation . The answer is clearly in the affirmative for two reasons : (i) because the act of the syrian regime in murdering hundreds of innocents with poison gas is heinous and condemnable ( I think the proof is more than evident) and (ii) because there are more pressing important problems here in Venezuela that deserve the attention of the Govt and which are being neglected while Maduro fatuously seeks to capture the lighlime of an international ‘appearance’ in the stage of international affairs supporting a regime that deserves international condemnation . Capriles latest statement is in line with the above reasoning , he condems the regimes position on the Syrian question on both grounds mentioned above while wishing for a peaceful solution to the Conflict !! (without making any show of supporting an armed intervention)


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