Azmi Bishara on Internal Colonialism and the People’s Right to Resist
by Mary Rizzo
If a regime’s internal structure resembles that of internal colonialism, and if its actions resemble those of a foreign colonial power—bombing their own country’s cities from the air and adopting an Orientalist mindset in their dealings with their own people— then such a regime’s rule may truly be described as internal colonialism. Thus, the right of a people to resist that regime as if it were a foreign occupying power remains intact. This remains true regardless of the nature of that regime’s international foes, bad as they may be. The nature of the people’s resistance, and their rightful struggle in the face of the regime’s crimes against humanity, remains unchanged.
As for those who defend the regime, they too must shoulder some of the blame for its crimes—with all of the nonsense being peddled by some of these defenders notwithstanding. They can be said to be defending this system of internal colonialism: nothing will be powerful enough to wash their hands of this blood.
Nothing will wash away their complicity in the terrorizing of the opposition by aerial bombardment of the cities; nothing will absolve them of culpability in this harrowing moral failure. Just as was the case with those who justified colonial powers’ bombardment of cities on the grounds that terrorists were present in those cities. Keep in mind: the fascist regime we are speaking of here is bombing its own people.
To fault the people who are fighting against such an internally colonialist regime by pointing out that the regime’s decidedly evil international foes make natural allies for the opposition does not take away from the virtue and justice of the opposition’s cause; nor does pointing this out soften the blow of the regimes multiple crimes against humanity, such as the aerial bombardment of their own cities.
The resilience of the Syrian people, with such limited world support, and in the face of such aggressive bombardment—both physical and oratorical—by the regime’s proponents is without parallel in history. One would think that the regime’s supporters really were plotting and carrying out resistance operations against the Israelis when the Syrian revolution broke out. In fact, they have long become used to rhetoric: it was no different during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. As for the regime itself, they have never managed to bomb anybody save their own people, and that with unprecedented international apathy.
The author of these words recalls well the difference between the different players here: there were some who chose to make peace with Israel, while some chose to resist. Some stood in solidarity with Gaza, while others conspired against her. Yet such stands must always be based on principle, and not subject to the whims of people who simply exploit the cause of Palestine for their own ends. Yet this same author also understands the sharp contrast between those who stand with an oppressed people as their cities are bombed from the air and those who stand by. This author will not simply abandon this very oppressed people merely because the regime’s enemies happen also to be villains.
There can be no defense for the bombing of Daryaa, and for the other towns and hamlets in the environs of Damascus. Nothing at all can wash away the crime of this months-long bombardment of Syria’s cities.