Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

How can Syria be saved? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I recently wrote about how the Arab League plan would be deployed to rescue the Syrian regime, whilst at the same time the Arab League is publicly boasting that it is slowly suffocating the al-Assad regime.

The Arab League is well aware that it is dealing with one of the shrewdest, fiercest and most ruthless regimes in the world. This is a regime that swallowed Lebanon whole – under the banner of the Arab – with regards to the so-called Arab Deterrent Force [deployed in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War] and which allowed Damascus to control Lebanon for the next three decades, and which local, Arab, and international forces were subsequently hard pressed to push out. This is a regime that has done something in Palestine that even the Israelis were unable to achieve; namely dividing the Palestinian ranks, marginalizing the Palestinian Authority, and conspiring against the Mecca Accords, thereby killing the only existing reconciliation agreement. This is a regime that has granted the Iranians access to the Arab world, allowing them to obtain whatever they failed to get through their funds and militias. This is a regime that bloodied the Americans in Iraq, costing the lives of 3,000 US troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, thanks to their support for “Al Qaeda” and the jihadists who received training and entered Iraq via Syria. This is also the regime, which at the same time as this, was negotiating with the Americans to surrender a number of Saddam Hussein’s aides who had sought refuge is Syria. This is a regime that welcomed the Arab League observers and then suppressed and cracked down on all those who dared to reveal their lies. One Arab League observer even claimed that the al-Assad regime had attempted to extort them. So how can the Arab League still believe that it is slowly suffocating the al-Assad regime?

One must ask, firstly, is there a practical solution [to the Syrian crisis]? If so, can this be implemented? Sending Arab troops to Syria is suicidal, and no Arab country would be willing to send its troops there. Whilst international intervention will not be easy to achieve, as was the case in Libya, simply because there are regional and international powers that are against this, including Israel, Iran, Russia, and others. As for the doing nothing and continuing mediation efforts; this will simply grant the al-Assad regime more time to escalate its suppression of 20 million Syrian citizens.

There is only one solution, namely publicly supporting the Syrian people’s right to express themselves and decide their own destiny. What would be the problem if the Arab League announces that the violence and killings being carried out by the Syrian forces and pro-regime Shabiha militia leaves it no choice but to suspend Syria’s Arab League membership, particularly as this was something put forward in the early days of the crisis? This decision was taken and then unfortunately postponed when the Syrian death toll was at just 1,200. However the Arab League withdrew from this position when the death toll was closer to 6,000, the majority of whom are unarmed civilians.

We are well aware that with some moral support from the Arab League and the countries sympathetic to the plight of the Syrian people, the Syrian revolutionaries would be able to overthrow the regime. This would not require the Arab League to take an initiative supporting peace or war, but rather a position clearly announcing the isolation of the al-Assad regime and granting support to the Syrian people. This would force the groups supporting the al-Assad regime – whether Alawites, Christians, or Sunnis – to abandon it. However the Arab League’s actions, unfortunately, have confused everybody and even raised suspicion over its intentions. This could be seen in the Arab League decision to extend the Arab observer mission’s deadline in Syria, the behaviour and statements of some of the Arab League observers, as well as the language of the Arab League itself, failing to differentiate between the killers and their victims [in Syria], according to the head of the Arab League observer mission [General Mohammed al-Dabi].

A strong political stand from the Arab League abandoning the al-Assad regime would represent a green light for others to join in its isolation. At this time, everybody would recognize and engage with the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country. However today, the Arab League is simply covering up for the atrocious crimes being committed by the Syrian regime. The Arab League – as many Syrian opposition figures have called for – must release its choke-hold of the Syrian people; that is the solution. This is a solution that does not require a plan or initiative, the deployment of troops, or referral to the UN Security Council. This is a solution that will cost the least amount of pain and bloodshed to the Syrian people, particularly less than the Arab League trying to protect the al-Assad regime!