Comments from Syria on the U.S. Elections

A small portrait of the translator

November 8, 2008 @ 19:15 UTC

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Countries:
Syria
Candidates:
Barack Obama
Issues:
Diaspora, Human Rights, International Relations, Globalization, Government & Politics
 

The Syrian blogosphere, particularly the contingent that blogs in English, has been somewhat quiet about the U.S. elections, at least in comparison to its neighbors. It's no secret that many bloggers in the Arab world are frustrated with some of Obama's policies, even if they are glad that some change has come. In this post, we will take a look at three different Syrian perspectives on the recent elections in the U.S.

Yaman, who studies in the United States, shares a story of celebrating Obama's victory in Berkeley, California:

As soon as Obama finished giving his acceptance speech, crowds of students began to gather in the streets of Berkeley. By the time I melded myself into the march somewhere on Durant Avenue, hundreds of students had already amassed. We ran down Durant feeling that a huge weight was off our shoulders, that there were only better days ahead. As we rejoiced, preparing to say goodbye forever to those familiar faces of the Bush regime, it dawned on me that we had no idea where we were going. Where was this march headed?

No one really knew, but we kept going, cheering the whole way. Eventually someone yelled, “to the library,” so there we went, our high spirits annoying those who were trying to study for midterms. Whenever the banality of our pit stop struck us, we simply started marching again. Soon we headed down to Shattuck where we paused somewhere around the BART station. We stood there again roaring in ecstasy about the win. When we got bored again, we kept moving until we found another similarly neutral, meaningless location to rest at until we yet again became restless. There was no organization to the march, no one there to tell us what the win would mean for us, no stops at locations with any political significance. It was more of a happiness movement, than a political one. At least we’d been delivered from the Bush years.

Yaman concludes that, while he's aware that Obama's election stands for change, he is also wary of the vigilance we must keep:

I went through high school and most of college under the Bush administration. Every social issue I ever learned about, fixing it was always a matter for “the long haul.” In these times of never-ending wars, arrogant, disrespectful, and unresponsive government, we always had to fight for everything in “the long term.” Well, Obama now has a long term ahead of him in which he can try to deliver on all these demands for change. We can’t take it for granted, though, that a win for Obama is a win for progressive policies, even if–maybe–it will inaugurate a progressive mood. One hopes that the Democratic party and the Obama administration have a little more direction than our happy crowd did, or we will have to remind them that we did not support them for the sake of supporting Democrats, but because we wanted them to do what we want them to do. We can hope, now, that these won’t be four more years of the same violent Bush rhetoric and policies; but surely, they will be four years of holding Obama and the Democratic party accountable for what they’ve promised and what we’ve asked for, rather than letting the mesmerizing aura stilt our principles and expectations.

Born in Damas reminds us not to forget about the United States' recent transgressions in Syria:

Amidst the celebration of Obama's election as President of the United States the world seems to have forgotten the recent helicopter incursion by US forces into Syria to allegedly terminate some individual that apparently constituted a danger to US national security.

Last month a raid was carried out a few kilometres inside the Syrian border with Iraq.

I have not seen much reaction in the US media about it nor much outcry in international places maybe because the Americans are a bit embarrassed and do not know what to think about this ‘incident' and maybe because the Europeans are totally flabbergasted as it does not fit in with the direction the current Syrian -EU-US relations was going into?

Maysaloon spells it out for those who might praise America:

America's mask is back on and Americanists the world over are breathing a sigh of relief. Those of them in the Arab world have had a particularly difficult time over the last eight years. Whilst they have had plenty of years experience becoming apologists for the murder of Palestinians (nobody cares about these anymore), the genocide in Iraq was a much harder pill to swallow and many felt compelled to publicly criticise the United States - an unthinkable act during the Clinton years. But what has changed in reality with the election of Obama? Nothing, and these Americanists will concede this. Article after article, many say how wonderful he will be and how historic his election is. They then proceed to add the caveat that, in reality, little will change concerning America's position with regards to Israel, the Arabs and Iraq. But that isn't the point. They then proceed to tell you that this is irrelevant, because his election means “change” has come, Americana is back and we can all feel good about it again. So all that has happened is that America has made people ‘feel good' again, so that they stop caring about what it really does, since nothing will change in the Middle East on their own admittance. After eight years of reality, responsibility, guilt and shame, the United States' apologists can now sit back and take a drag of premium Americana hashish. Relax, everything is going to be ok.

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