July 27, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2462

Syrian Culture Minister Extols Resistance

July 27, 2009
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 2462
The Arab media have recently publicized statements by Syrian Culture Minister Riyad Na'san Al-Agha in which he extols resistance. In his statements, Al-Agha says that apart from being the only effective strategy against Israel, resistance has certain metaphysical attributes which makes it an essential condition for survival as well as part of human nature, so that anyone who rejects resistance rejects human nature itself. These statements are consistent with Syria's official policy, whose objective is to make Syria the leader of the rejectionist axis – as is obvious from Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's statement to the effect that Damascus is "the cultural capital of resistance"(1) as well as from his other remarks in praise of resistance.(2)

Al-Agha at the Conference on Arab Resistance Literature: Resistance Brings Constant Gain

A conference on Arab resistance literature was held in Damascus March 29-30, 2009, under the auspices of the Syrian Culture Ministry and with the participation of Syrian researchers and philosophers. According to Al-Agha, it was not mere coincidence that this conference was held at the same time as the Arab Doha summit; rather, this was a message that Syria leads the resistance movement. Thus, according to Al-Agha, while Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad "was calling all the leaders of the [Arab] nation to uphold resistance," the conference in Damascus "was meant to demonstrate to the Arab nation that Damascus always extols resistance…"

At the conference, Al-Agha stated: "Resistance is not a luxury, but an imperative, which cannot be avoided. It is the only way to achieve freedom. If some people do not wish to learn from the experience of nations and peoples, they can at least learn from animals – for even animals fight for survival. Resistance is an essential activity which means life and [freedom of] movement…

"This [the Arab] nation has learned [the art of] struggle throughout history. There is no need to assess resistance in terms of gain or loss, since resistance brings constant gain…"
Al-Agha criticized the countries of the moderate axis, and blamed them for disregarding the wishes of the nation. He stated: "We [Syria] are not alone [in championing resistance]… The entire [Arab] nation has chosen [the path of] resistance. Even if some people had doubts regarding this option, the call of the nation prevailed…"

He added that the countries that have chosen not to uphold resistance will have to explain to future generations why "the Arabs disagreed on the issue of resistance," why "some newspapers eliminated the word 'resistance' from their lexicon," and why "some powerful media outlets(An Interview with Bashar Al-Assad: 'The Arab Defense Agreement Should Be Implemented'; 'As Long as Israel Exists It Will Constitute a Threat'; 'Israel Will Not Be a Legitimate State Even After the Peace') referred to resistance fighters as 'operatives.'" Future generations, he said, will then cry out, "What are you arguing about? [Are you arguing] about your right to be free and to liberate your country?'"(4)

Al-Agha: Resistance Is The Only Option

In an article in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, Al-Agha stated: "Everyone agrees that the core of the problem is occupation. The international community, in all its variety, adheres to the [UN] Security Council resolution affirming the Arabs' right to return their territories occupied after June 4, 1967. Israel did not respond to the Arab peace initiative; so whether it is withdrawn, suspended, or upheld doesn't matter – this will not change the fact that it has reached an impasse, and that an alternative way must be sought to achieve the agreed upon goal.

"I believe that resistance is [the only] practical option, despite its heavy toll; indeed, resistance demands from a people that chooses it numerous losses and sacrifices. However, such is the lot of a people that is being attacked, and this is the price [it pays] for freedom…"

"Resistance was the only strategy that forced Israel to engage in negotiations that were serious – and not aimed at buying time, as had been the case for decades…

"The resistance option is controversial: indeed, some believe that diplomacy is still a viable alternative, and others believe that all [diplomatic] possibilities have been exhausted, and that [diplomacy] has become a kind of political tourism for delegations, and the butt of mockery and scorn –for example, like the claim that the road map delegations have lost their compass and their way…

"Those who advocate resistance know that some Arab countries are bound by international agreements and obligations, and therefore have no choice but to opt for diplomacy. I ask: What prevents the Arabs from distributing the tasks among themselves? The countries that are not tied by international agreements precluding them from embracing resistance can engage in resistance, while countries that have signed such agreements can pursue diplomacy.

"This [is possible] since all of them have chosen peace as a goal, and since it is not at all obvious that a way out of this dispute can be found unless both avenues are followed concomitantly – which need not lead to any disagreements or affect intra-Arab relations.

"If, in the future, it becomes clear that Israel agrees to engage in diplomacy, and that its quest for peace is genuine, then, I expect, resistance will incline towards peace, if this enables it to achieve real goals. However, if resistance is required to stop [its operations] altogether, without any real prospect for peace, or even without an agreement regarding its demands, this will render the nation vulnerable, and liable to collapse and defeat…"(5)

(2) See MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 488, "An Interview with Bashar Al-Assad: 'The Arab Defense Agreement Should Be Implemented'; 'As Long as Israel Exists It Will Constitute a Threat'; 'Israel Will Not Be a Legitimate State Even After the Peace,'" March 28, 2003,
(3) Al-Agha was probably alluding to the Saudi Al-Arabiya TV, which has been accused of covering resistance unsympathetically. See, e.g.,, November 21, 2008;, October 22, 2008.
(4) Teshreen (Syria), April 6, 2009.
(5) Al-Ittihad (UAE), March 27, 2009

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