Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Where were the Arab Ambassadors? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The American and French Ambassadors have put their Arab counterparts, who remain secluded in their houses in Damascus, in an awkward position after they both went to investigate the demonstrations in Hama. They departed the capital city, risking their lives in extremely dangerous circumstances, for they could have been targeted by thugs or the security services. They entered the districts which have witnessed demonstrations and were lauded with flowers, although the US and the Arabs have both let the protestors down in their dreadful ordeal.

The Arab ambassadors’ silent stance is in line with the positions adopted by Arab governments; I have heard nothing, seen nothing, and I will not utter a word. Furthermore, I most certainly will not leave the embassy’s premises! The Arab governments’ position is a traditional one. This is because, historically speaking, such governments avoid standing against any “sisterly” government, regardless of the gravity of its internal crisis, unless they are hostile towards it. Only Libya was excepted from this official Arab immunity, as Arab governments have all supported the imposition of political and military sanctions against the “sisterly” Gaddafi regime, by sending international troops to overthrow it. With the exception of Qatar, no single Arab state has taken a stance supporting the revolution in Syria, although the Arab world is shocked by what it hears and sees everyday, with regards to the killings and torture taking place there.

Here we should note that Arab demonstrations have never been as extensive as they have been in Syria, in terms of the number of protestors and the duration of protests. In modern history there has never been an uprising of such intensity, fierce confrontation, determination, bloodshed, and duration, as we have seen over the past three months in Syria. The peaceful demonstrations have astonished the entire world with the magnitude of their patience and persistence in the face of certain death. Every time a demonstration is staged a multitude of protestors are killed, yet nevertheless, the demonstrators return to the same street to protest, and then another group is killed, and so on. For a popular uprising to continue for three months is indeed unprecedented, yet it may not continue peacefully, and will certainly transform into an armed confrontation if the world remains silent. This is because demonstrations remain peaceful only when demonstrators feel that the world is doing something, and this has not happened so far.

It is reasonable that some would ask: What benefit will we gain if Arab governments interfere to pressure their “sisterly” regimes? The Syrian government should have been pushed by Arab countries towards an internal peaceful solution, using a method of both incentives and threats. In such Arab countries there are domestic pressure groups who will not accept their governments remaining silent about what is happening to their brothers in Syria. I believe that the Syrian regime, having felt that its back is protected by the bulk of Arab governments against possible sanctions in international political circles since the beginning of the crisis, is encouraged to carry out further bloodshed, torture and killing of peaceful civil demonstrators. Had Arab governments sought to pressure the Syrian regime earlier, and had they warned it of the consequences of persisting in its [practices], perhaps the behavior of the regime would have been different, and the situation might not have reached the point of no return, whereby the people persist with protests and the regime continues to kill them.

I believe that had there been interference and genuine pressure at the beginning of the crisis, the Syrian regime could have been rescued from itself. The regime could have been deterred from committing violence and forced to engage in dialogue, instead of sending thugs, security troops and the army to terrorize and kill its people. The regime believes that everyone will remain silent about what it has committed, despite the news broadcast in the media about the Syrian bloodshed and horrific events. Only Amr Musa, the former Arab League Secretary General, came out to criticize what was happening, warning that the League will not remain silent about the massacres taking place there. Of course, Syria’s envoy to the League knows quite well that Musa’s rhetoric is false, and that the League will remain silent about the massacres because only the envoys of member states, not the League’s Secretary General, can decide to hold meetings, draft statements and adopt positions. Thus, Musa’s statement can be considered a media ploy, intended to seduce the Egyptian masses who are very sympathetic towards the Syrian people.