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Conspiring with the Damascus regime - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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How do we interpret this sudden change in Iraqi policy? The Prime Minister, the President, the Foreign Minister, the government spokesman; all of them defended Bashar al-Assad’s regime, despite the brutal crimes that he is committing against his own people. How do we interpret Jordan’s stance, particularly with regards to the famous statement issued by the Jordanian monarch in which he said that if he were in al-Assad’s position, he would resign. We can compare this to the contradictory statement issued by the Jordanian Prime Minister in which he opposed any actions to save the Syrian people, on the pretext that he was against foreign intervention. How can we explain Algeria’s stance, which is strongly defending the al-Assad regime at every summit and meeting, particularly as Algeria was responsible for dialling back the Arab League sanctions that were imposed on the Syrian regime, further complicating the Syrian crisis and causing the deaths of more innocent people?

We can somewhat understand the position taken [on Syria] by certain countries, like Lebanon. For Syria’s neighbouring Lebanon is embroiled in the situation, and its fears of the Syrian regime are quite understandable. No one will blame Lebanon, whatever decision it takes [on Syria], particularly as it has the bad fortune to be in possession of a UN [non-permanent member] Security Council seat at the same time that the Syrian revolution is taking place. As for Iraq, the initial explanation was that it has fallen under the influence of the Iranian regime which is pressuring Baghdad to support the al-Assad regime, and that this is a sectarian stance, out of fear of a possible Sunni regime coming to power in their northern neighbour. However there can be no doubt that this story of Sunni extremists taking power in Syria is not fair to the oppressed Syrian people, particularly as what is happening in Syria is a mirror-image of the suffering of the Sunnis [in Iraq] during the Saddam Hussein era. It is therefore hard to believe that the Iraqi regime – which is always referring to its own uprising against injustice and tyranny – is supporting the Syrian regime, which is exercising the same kind of injustice and tyranny [as Saddam Hussein]. Moreover, one of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s aides issued a statement recently criticizing the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime, describing this as double-standards. Does this make sense? Particularly as the current Iraqi government itself only exists as the result of US sanctions and intervention [in Iraq]; therefore it is the Iraqi government that is practising double-standards, accepting the ouster of Saddam Hussein [via sanctions and foreign intervention], but protecting the al-Assad government [from this], despite all the crimes it is committing against its own people.

As for Amman, the only logic explanation for its actions is that it fears Jordan becoming the main route for a war [in Syria] that it cannot afford. Jordan is already suspicious that Israel is searching for a means of expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank, viewing Jordan as an alternative home [for them]. The new Jordanian government may also be thinking of financially exploiting the Syrian crisis, without taking into account that the international state of affairs today will not be as generous to them as it was for them during the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime.

As for Algeria, nobody seems to understand the stance taken by its leadership to defend the worst dictators in modern Arab history; namely al-Assad and Gaddafi. Does the Algerian leadership fear that its country will be the next to be hit by unrest? Or is it merely opposing any action adopted by France on principle, owing to the complicated history shared by the two countries? The Algerian leadership – whose ambassadors are defending al-Assad – cannot justify defending a regime that has killed thousands of people in Syria, merely because of unjustified fears and the complicated historical relationship between itself and France, and Arab public opinion is increasingly angered by the Algerian stance [on Syria].

This is a very difficult period for all Arab governments, and any decision they take [on Syria] will have implications. However the most dangerous decision would be to remain silent on – or shall we say, conspire with – the brutal and systematic violence that is taking place in Syria today. Silence on this issue is something that is unforgivable!

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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