A Socialist In Canada, April 29, 2017
The conference was organized by the Center for Counter Hegemonic Studies (CCHS), founded in early 2016 and directed by Professor Tim Anderson of Sydney University. The conference was titled ‘After the War on Syria: Imperialism, Independence and Human Rights’. Here is a brief description of the conference by the organizers:
This two-day conference will critically explore self-determination and imperialism in Syria and the wider region, corporate media presentations of the war, the ‘humanitarian war’ narrative, the geopolitical repercussions and the roots of the war on Syria.
Videos of the all the presentations to the conference as the as the question and discussion periods following each can be viewed on the CCHS YouTube channel, here.
Professor Tim Anderson is the author of the 2016 book The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance.
Here are some of the highlights of the conference:
* Introduction by Tim Anderson to the conference on the morning of April 18. His brief introduction is followed by a presentation by Jay Tharappel titled ‘Syria and the Confusion of the Western Left’ (21 minutes). Watch it here on YouTube or by clicking the screen here:
* Presentation by Tim Anderson (53 minutes), titled ‘The human rights industry and humanitarian wars’. Watch it here on YouTube or by clicking the screen here:
* Presentation by Paul Antonopoulos (25 minutes), titled ‘Turkey’s neo-Ottamanism in Syria’. Watch it here on YouTube or by clicking the screen here:.
* Presentation by Suzan Hanna, ‘Mirage of Sovereignty and the White Man’s Burden’ (25 minutes). Watch it here on YouTube or by clicking the screen here:
To watch all the conference sessions, go to the special conference section on the website of the Center for Counter Hegemonic Studies, here.
Report on ‘After the war on Syria’ conference, University of Sydney, 18-19 April 2017
Over 150 people attended the ‘After the war on Syria’ conference, over 18-19 April at the University of Sydney. Seventeen papers were presented and each of five sessions saw enthusiastic and extended participation by the audience. This was the first Australian academic conference on the Syrian conflict in its six long years.
The range of presentations dealt with geopolitics, imperialism, the human rights industry, political Islam, minorities, the big powers’ balkanisation plans, media manipulation and war propaganda. Question and discussion sessions of more than one hour followed each set of presentations. A powerful response from the audience led to resolutions (see below) and the creation of a new social media group, the Syrian Sovereignty Action Network (SSAN) https://www.facebook.com/groups/294273510996434/.
Those involved in planning the conference were attacked by tabloid journalists such as Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun, who claimed critical discussion of the war on Syria meant that Australian universities were in “decline”. Brilliant! Junk food vendors complaining about nutrition classes. Pretending concern for university standards, and trying to disqualify critical discussion of the war on Syria, the corporate media called me a “gasbag” and a “boffin”, our group “uni loonies” and the conference a “pro-Assad push”. Everything except reasonable discussion.
The corporate media attention incited some hate mail, but many curious people were attracted to the conference. The media attacks certainly increased our attendance figures. Around 100 people attended each of the five sessions.
On the first day, researcher Jay Tharappel spoke of ‘Syria & the Confusion of the Western Left’. His presentation and the others are being posted online at the Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies’ website and YouTube channel.
Scientist and Syrian blogger Maram Susli spoke to ‘Balkanisation and ethnic cleansing in Syria and Iraq’, followed by postgraduate student Thomas Costigan on ‘The War on Syria: the origins of regime change’, and then Dr Hatem el Zein over ‘The Conflict over the Future of Syria from Hezbollah’s Perspective: The Axis of Resistance at Stake’.
In the second session on April 18, Karim Pourhamzavi presented his paper titled ‘Trump’s administration and the future of jihad: the role and future of ‘Political Islam’ in the region’, followed by Paul Antonopoulos on ‘Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman Imperial Ambitions on Syria’ and Marisa Della Gatta on ‘The Politics of fearfulness on Syrians: fears of sectarianism, Islamism and Islamophobia’. The last presentation, with a poem ‘Mr War’, was from young student Pola Fanous.
In the third (evening) session, Dr Nicholas al Jeloo’s paper was ‘After the War: Effects on Syria’s Cultural Diversity’, alongside Maram Susli on ‘How the wars in Syria and Iraq are linked’ and Marwa Osman from Lebanon on ‘Transformation of the Axis of Resistance at the Syrian Crossroad’. Video of all these presentations, plus the subsequent discussion sections, is being posted online.
On the second day, the morning session comprised Dr Drew Cottle’s presentation ‘The Syrian war and the Strategic Logic of US Imperialism’ and Dr Tim Anderson’s paper ‘The human rights industry during humanitarian war’. The final afternoon session had four papers. Suzan Hanna spoke on ‘The mirage of sovereignty and the ‘white man’s burden’: The role of media in the modern imperialism of Syria’; while Dr Therese Taylor provided literary and political analysis of the ‘Gay Girl Blogger – the politics of a cyber-hoax’. Young student Tianna Sukkarieh spoke to her paper ‘How have the western and corporate media presented this war? Western Media and the Syrian MacGuffin’. She was followed by our last presenter, lawyer Sam Saadat, who examined principles of justice during the Syrian conflict.
Resolutions urged by the audience and passed in the final session stated that this conference:
- Supports the self-determination of the Syrian people; only they can determine the fate of Syria,
- Calls on the Australian Government to withdraw all military presence and action from Syria, without request from and permission of the Syrian Government,
- Demands that the Australian Government drops all economic sanctions on Syria, as they only exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people,
- Demands that the corporate and state media tell the truth about Syria.
Research papers based on the presentations, after a refereeing process, will be published online at the Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies, here.
To read daily news reports and analysis of the regime-change war against Syria by the United States and its allies in the Middle East and in NATO, follow the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond (New Cold War.org). You can subscribe to receive the Monday-Friday newsletter of the website by clicking on the ‘subscribe’ feature on the website main page.