Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

How did al-Assad intimidate them? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Many people have been carried away by the idea that the international community is facing one of two choices: either accepting the Syrian regime or risking civil war breaking out in Syria, which in turn could ignite regional wars. This intimidation has succeeded in changing the views of some foreign and Arab governments and leaders, since last November, when the Arab League withdrew from its intention to suspend Syria’s membership; a decision which had previously been almost unanimously agreed upon by the Arab League member states, with just two countries opposing this.

This great deception, namely that protecting the al-Assad regime protects Syria as a whole, as well as regional stability, is being propagated whilst the reality is the complete opposite. Over the past ten years, Damascus has played the role of the saboteur in our region, masterminding the assassination of dozens of Lebanese leaders, whilst the majority of terrorists who have entered Iraq – carrying out numerous attacks which have resulted in as many as 200,000 people being killed – did so via the Syrian border. Damascus also strongly allied itself with Iran and certain dangerous armed organizations, such as Hezbollah, in order to destabilize the security in our region. In this case, how can al-Assad’s departure lead to chaos, when he is the main source of violence?

It is true that the domestic situation in Syria was previously quite stable due to the regime’s control of all aspects of its citizens’ lives, via its almost 700,000 security and military personnel. This was the true secret of Syria’s “stability”, but now after the outbreak of the revolution throughout Syria, how can the regime’s survival represent a guarantee against civil war? Indeed, this regime itself is carrying out a civil war against the Syrian people; how can this regime hope to co-exist with 25 million Syrians who now consider it their enemy and regard its troops as occupiers, particularly after the violent crackdown, widespread killing and mass detentions?

It is a delusion to believe that backing al-Assad will prevent the outbreak of a civil war because the Syrian regime will remain besieged, whilst rebel groups will grow stronger and continue to attack the regime in the coming years. Let us recall what happened to the Saddam Hussein regime after his forces were broken in 1991. The regime remained in control in Baghdad, but most of the country suffered chaos and rebellion. The central authority was unable to control the rest of the country; practically speaking, Saddam was in charge during the day, while militias and gangs were in control by night. Accordingly, the regime collapsed quickly in 2003, when US troops were able to easily over-run the country and occupy it within just a few days.

Therefore defending the Syrian regime and believing that its presence will guarantee regional stability is nothing more than a delusion. It was not a guarantor of regional stability in the past, nor will it be in the future. Moreover, failing to take any action against al-Assad – who is massacring his own people – in the belief that this will prevent the outbreak of a civil war will, ironically, guarantees the outbreak of said war. Due to the policy of intimidation being utilized by the al-Assad regime, and which has also been adopted by groups in Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Egypt and Algeria; al-Assad is disregarding all efforts, mediation and means of resolving this crisis. Whilst protests and killings are taking place across Syria, al-Assad is spending hours on his computer downloading movies via the internet. If this regime remains in power, it will only do so by relying even more on a axis of terror managed by Iran. Al-Assad’s leaked emails already clearly show how the Iranians are directing him, even in the manner that he writes his own press statements!

The fall of al-Assad will certainly have painful consequences; however these are nothing in comparison with the danger of this regime remaining in power, particularly after it has committed these terrible crimes. If the al-Assad regime survives, it will pose an even greater threat to its closest neighbours; namely Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. It will become a safe haven for regional terror groups, whilst the whole region will be drowned in wars masterminded by Iran and managed by the al-Assad regime, which has experience in this field dating back to the seventies. The al-Assad regime has managed armed groups for four decades, during which their activities covered most countries in the Middle East and even reached Europe.