Divisions exposed as pro-Hizballah, leftist Palestinians hail Assad's 'victory'

Divisions exposed as pro-Hizballah, leftist Palestinians hail Assad's 'victory'
Having bought into certain narratives, Palestinian politicians across the divide and ordinary people have hailed the Syrian regime's re-capture of East Aleppo from rebels as a 'victory for Palestine'.
4 min read
18 Dec, 2016
Protests in solidarity with Aleppo in Gaza [Anadolu]
Left-wing and pro-Hizballah Palestinian politicians, as well as ordinary citizens, have hailed the Syrian regime's re-capture of East Aleppo from rebels as a "victory for Palestine".

Some of the pro-regime or apologist attitudes can be blamed on direct affiliation (or affinity) to the Syrian regime or its allies, Iran and Lebanese Hizballah. Others seem to be the result of misinformation, vulnerability to propaganda or a 'lesser-of-two-evils' perspective.

The regime-apologist narrative observed among some sections of Palestinians following East Aleppo's fall fairly reflects those in the broader region and the world. It holds that Aleppo's recapture is a major victory for the Syrian state against "jihadi terrorists" and a "US-Israeli-backed imperialist conspiracy against the axis of resistance", and therefore, Palestine.

The regime's recapture of Aleppo is a "major victory", declared the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

It promised "the start of the retreat of the plot against our Arab nation and the thwarting of the reactionary imperialist Zionist plan".

Speaking to The New Arab, PFLP politbureau member Kayed al-Ghoul said his group's position is part of "supporting Syria and considering the events in Aleppo and other cities part of a plot to fragment the Syrian state".

"Victory against the terrorist forces in Aleppo and Syria is a step in the direction of defeating the terrorism targeting Syria as a state and weakening the Arab region," including Palestine, he added.

"The PFLP position is consistent with its declared alliances with the Syrian regime, Iran and Hizballah, despite being contradictory to the general Palestinian mood," said Ibrahim al-Madhoun, political analyst based in Gaza.

In a recent poll by Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and Research it was found that the largest percentage of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (40 percent) supported the mainstream rebel Free Syrian army.

Meanwhile, 18 percent backed President Bashar al-Assad and his armed forces while and 5 percent supported extremist anti-regime religious groups, including IS.

Nearly 23 percent said they did not like any of the three parties.

While Hamas condemned the events in East Aleppo and the regime's action - holding rallies in solidarity with Syrians - groups such as the Islamic Jihad in Gaza (which has continued ties with Iran) had a contradictory stance.

As Islamic Jihad politburo member Mohammed al-Hindi was quoted in local reports denouncing the atrocities in Aleppo led by pro-Iranian militias. Meanwhile, the group's secretary general was meeting top Iranian officials in Tehran, where Aleppo was likely not brought up.
Even in Israel, Palestinian-Israeli leftist politicians have echoed pro-regime views.
Palestinian-Israelis and Aleppo

Even in Israel, Palestinian-Israeli leftist politicians have echoed pro-regime views. The "unification" of Aleppo is a turning point in thwarting extremist Islamic terrorism in Syria and "foiling the imperliastic and reactionary attack against the peoples of the region", said Adel Amar, secretary-general of the Israeli Communist Party in a statement.

Other Palestinian-Israeli politicians sought to quickly distance themselves from these remarks. On Saturday, MK Basel Ghattas from Balad, part of the Joint List along with Amar's party, spoke to The Jerusalem Post.

"We condemn the massive destruction and massive killing of civilians by the regime and fully support the demands of the Syrian people for liberty and a civil state... Yes, Assad should go," he said.

On social media, some ordinary Palestinians' views widely echoed this division. Among those who are sympathetic to Hizballah in Lebanon and its promises regarding the Palestinian cause, the capture of Aleppo was hailed as a triumph.

Some of the views are harsh and dismiss reports of war crimes by the regime as "propaganda". Some condoned them as necessary in the face of the "cynical conspiracy" against the region.

Articles by fringe Western journalists questioning the extent of the regime's war crimes - and highlighting the alleged anti-Assad bias in the mainstream Western and Arab media - have been shared by these voices in recent days.

The majority of these Palestinians seem to be unaware of the data-backed assessments showing the Assad regime is behind most war crimes in Syria, subscribing instead to pro-regime media coverage found in Russian- and Iranian-funded outlets.

With Palestinians and other Arabs taking such stark sides, some have had a more balanced view, denouncing both the regime and some rebel factions and their backers, which have hijacked the revolution and harmed civilians.

"A ceasefire for the good of the Syrian people would be a victory, not the 'unification' of Aleppo. Everyone is fighting there and the Syrian people pay the price. I don't look on it from Assad's side, the Nusra Front's side, or Islamic State [group]'s side. All are committing war crimes, and all are guilty including those who stand behind them," said Palestinian-Israeli MK Isawi Freij from Meretz.