As the uprising proceeded in Tunisia last December and January and as it picked up in Egypt in January and February, developments seemed clear. Despite attempts to suppress the press, much of the news of what was unfolding reached national and international audiences immediately. The situation changed dramatically when the uprisings began in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. While a quasi news blackout suppressed coverage of the ongoing popular revolt and its violent suppression in Bahrain by Bahraini and Saudi forces (and only intermittent coverage of Oman was allowed), we continued to get important updates from Yemen. It was in Libya where the lies and propaganda started from the first week of the revolt. It was there that international forces, extending from the Gulf to Europe to the US, took charge of propagandising against Gaddafi (that he used his forces to strafe demonstrators, that his forces received Viagra and raped hundreds of women, that he used "African" mercenaries against his own people, that he was preparing to use chemical weapons against his people, that he had already killed 50,000 Libyans, etc. - all proved to be lies that international observers and agencies finally exposed as baseless fabrications) and ultimately of overthrowing Gaddafi’s dictatorship under the guise of the popular uprising led by NATO forces who actually bombed and killed hundreds of Libyan civilians.
A lesson in imperialism
This is the lesson for those in Syria who are struggling to bring about democratic rule. The evidence is clear. If you live in an Arab country whose dictator is a client of the Americans, the US will do everything in its power to suppress your revolt, and if you succeed despite US efforts, the US will sponsor the counter-revolution against you directly and indirectly through its local allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel, but now also Qatar. This of course applies to the situations in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Oman, and in Saudi Arabia itself. If you happen to live in a country whose dictator, though friendly to the West, maintains an independent line on foreign policy or at least a line that cannot always be guaranteed to serve Western interests - and this applies to Syria and Iran (and lest we forget their services to the West, both countries helped actively the US effort to unseat Saddam, and the Syrian regime helped with US efforts in supporting rightwing forces in Lebanon against the Lebanese left and the PLO in the 1970s) and less so Libya, then the US will help sponsor your revolt against your dictator to bring about a more pliant dictator to serve its interests without equivocation, and it will do so in the name of supporting democracy. The US also explains its counter-revolutionary efforts in countries where the revolts succeeded in overthrowing the American-sponsored dictators as "pro-democratic" measures.
Those who see the Syrian popular struggle for democracy as having already been hijacked by these imperial and pro-imperial forces inside and outside Syria understand that a continuation of the revolt will only bring about one outcome, and it is not a democratic one - namely, a US-imposed pliant and repressive regime à la Iraq and Libya. If this is what the Syrian demonstrators are struggling for, then they should continue their uprising; if this is not their goal, then they must face up to the very difficult conclusion that they have been effectively defeated, not by the horrifying repression of their own dictatorial regime which they have valiantly resisted, but rather by the international forces that are as committed as the Syrian regime itself to deny Syrians the democracy they so deserve. In light of the new move by the Arab League, the US, and Europe, the struggle to overthrow Asad may very well succeed, but the struggle to bring about a democratic regime in Syria has been thoroughly defeated.
It was the United States that destroyed Syrian democracy in 1949 when the CIA sponsored the first coup d’état in the country ending democratic rule. It is again the United States that has destroyed the possibility of a democratic outcome of the current popular uprising. My deep condolences to the Syrian people.