Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Arab League game | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We must understand that a game is being played by certain parties within the Arab League in order to cover up for the massacres that are taking place in Syria and prevent the al-Assed regime from being ousted. Therefore the team of Arab monitors being sent to observe the situation in Syria, and the mediation being initiated by Khaled Meshal of Hamas and Iran, represent nothing more than a game whose sole objective is to buy time for the al-Assad regime to kill more activists and save its own neck. More than three months have passed since the Arab League first started calling for the Syrian regime to negotiate, this has allowed the al-Assad regime to regain control of some areas where protests and demonstrations had broken out. If the Arab League, Khaled Meshal, Iran, and Russia succeed in protecting al-Assad from international intervention for another nine months, he may succeed in quelling the uprising altogether. In this case, nothing would prevent al-Assad from imprisoning half a million activists and protesters, and occupying the country’s cities with his troops and pro-regime Shabiha militia.

International intervention [in Syria] doesn’t violate morals, national sovereignty, Arab identity or Islam, rather this is a necessity to counteract the brutality of the regime and the support – in money, arms, and even men – that al-Assad is receiving from other countries. There are a number of important examples where international involvement was crucial to protecting citizens from tyrannical regimes. The list includes NATO intervention in Bosnia to protect the Muslims of Kosovo, as well as international intervention to liberate Kuwait from occupation by Saddam Hussein’s forces. More than twenty years ago, a similar debate raged amongst the Arabs over the legality of international intervention. Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait on 2 August [1990]. The Arabs split into two camps; one supporting Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait, the other wanting to drive him out. The first camp knew that it would be impossible for the Gulf armies to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait, and so they feared this being achieved by international intervention. The second camp was aware that Iran had fought Iraq for eight years without being able to achieve a victory, whilst any Arab force would require even longer to confront the Saddam Hussein military regime, and even then would not be guaranteed victory. Therefore each party entered into a war of words; the Gulf axis wanted US intervention as this would guarantee a quick victory, but they also wanted to ensure this had international legitimacy via the UN Security Council, in order not to anger the Arab world. The second pro-Saddam camp strongly opposed [international] intervention, and they labelled anybody who dared to support this as a traitor or agent of a foreign power. Instead, they called for an “Arab solution”, to the crisis, namely Arab troops being sent to liberate Kuwait, although, of course, the real objective was to dilute the issue.

The recent idea of sending Arab observers to Syria was put forward for two reasons: firstly, in order to avoid international intervention, and secondly in order to grant the al-Assad regime more time to crush the revolution by increasing its crackdown on the Syrian protesters and political activists. The international community did not call for observers to be sent to monitor the situation when the Serbs were massacring Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia. The world took action, telling the former regime in Belgrade that it would either halt the violence or face international intervention. Despite the objections of Russia and some other European countries, it was international intervention which eventually succeeded in putting an end to the genocide. Nobody accepted the invitation to send international observers there because all the reports indicated that massacres were being carried out, and the same applies to Syria today.

It also bears mentioning that international intervention is more needed in Syria today than it was in Kosovo. In 1988, the crisis began when the people of Kosovo announced their secession from Yugoslavia; they then formed the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought the Serbs. In the case of Syria, the general public are being systematically killed, although they have neither called for secession nor offered any armed resistance. The majority of the people are peaceful protesters. Nevertheless, they are being openly killed in front of the eyes of the world. Therefore, how can some Arabs reject international intervention in Syria and claim this is neo-colonialism?

History is repeating itself. Today, the Arabs who want to save al-Assad’s regime from collapse are using a strategy that is based upon two concepts; preventing international intervention and granting al-Assad more time to kill or detain the political activists. This is the true story behind the rejection of international intervention, which deprives the Syrian people of their most basic human right, namely the right to save their lives, and is something that should not be denied, whatever the pretext. Unfortunately, Arab League Secretary-General [Nabil Elaraby] seems to believe his job is to prevent the Syrian people from being saved from the massacre they are facing, in addition to granting the al-Assad regime more time to carry out these massacres.