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What''s Syria''s Next Move - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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At this very moment, it is clear that the Syrian government is experiencing its most severe of crises since the 1973 war. Currently, UN Commissioner Mehlis and the affiliated security team are accusing Damascus explicitly of involvement in the assassination of the Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Such an accusation will not be refuted by member countries of the Security Council who had originally agreed upon the formation of the international investigation team along with the names and nationalities of this team. Even Syria had not objected the composition of the team.

Damascus has a few options at hand, the most prominent of which is to either cooperate or reject the UN Commission resolution. Rejection means that Syria will be prone to two alternatives; firstly, the Iraqi situation in which Iraq also took the rejection stance, and was obstinate until it surrendered. By then war had broken out and Iraq had collapsed. The other alternative is the Libyan case, in which Libya refused to cooperate only to surrender after suffering from the sanctions carried out against it, just before military action was to take place, thus its crises ended.

The other option that Syria can follow is to accept the international resolution that has condemned it and to cooperate with the international team. Such a decision would mean that the Syrian regime must condemn this crime and surrender completely those who were involved, thus escaping a cycle of disasters that would infest Syria for the upcoming years. Such an option is the simplest and most attainable at this moment, and will spare Syria the pains of sanctions and will ward off a definite disaster.

Damascus can simply use this crisis for its own interest and avoid this tragedy with the least possible of losses. If so, Syria will be able to survive the current circumstances that countries bigger than Syria are surviving. If Syria was to surprise the international community with acceptance and cooperation rather than a rejection, whilst stating all its reservations, it will then ensure a new stage of security. Consequently all attempts to topple the Syrian regime and destabilize the country would be defeated.

All countries of the region want a stable Syria and would exert their best efforts to ensure that such an option is valid, yet these countries cannot help Syria if it itself does not make the effort, as it rarely did when it withdrew its forces from Lebanon and accepted the international investigation.

Syria is a key player in the political game of the region, and the first to realize so are the Lebanese themselves. No one argues against this claim, except those who want to use this crisis and the international condemnation of Syria for their own interest. Syria could be dragged into many perplexities, and its political and security interests could be at risk as long as a unanimous international resolution of the Security Council countries is issued against Syria.

We hope that Syria will consider the Iraqi and Libyan experiences with the international community, bearing in mind that the current political and security circumstances are much worse than those experienced by the mentioned regimes. Nowadays, a huge force is building against Syria, along with a furious Lebanese public opinion and the existence of clear evidence against Syria similar to the evidence of Libya”s involvement in the Lockerbie bombing. All these factors make Syria an easy catch.

In such crises, political wisdom must be the main actor in which the safety of the country should precede that of individuals, public interest must come before personal interest, and finally the bitter taste of accusation should be swallowed so as to avoid potential sanctions.

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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