Informit article: Putting Syria back together again

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A response to Jeremy Salt

Jeremy Salt’s essay on Syria published in this edition of ‘Arena Magazine’ is a misguided contribution to the debate on recent events in that country. Salt’s central contention is that the Syrian revolution is not a genuine popular uprising, but instead something more sinister. His essay constructs a rather elaborate theory, the essence of which can be expressed as follows: that the people of Syria who have chosen the path of armed resistance are no more than the ‘tools’ of foreign powers who are hell bent on destroying the country, its secular character and its status as part of an ‘axis of resistance’ to Western imperial interests in the Middle East (and by extension, the interests of Syria’s bete noire: the state of Israel). In this response, we reject Salt’s thesis and uncover the faulty evidential base upon which it is constructed. We argue that Salt’s interpretation of events is misguided because it is anachronistic and abstract, mired in Cold War realpolitik propaganda. Salt’s argument represents a classic conspiracy theory, in the sense that it contains shards of truth, extrapolated into a metanarrative that ascribes agency to some shadowy, globally powerful force.

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