Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syrian Absence | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There is wide-scale political and diplomatic activity taking place in the Middle East. There are consultations amongst the Gulf States, Arab meetings and conferences between members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordan and Egypt even with the US Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs attending. The Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad al Siniora takes part in tours of several Arab capitals, so does the Egyptian President and the Jordanian King to discuss a number of issues.

What is regrettable, however, is the absence of Syrian initiatives and the continuous internal isolation in Damascus as well as ongoing lukewarm relations between Syria and a number of key Arab capitals.

Does this phenomenon not deserve a moment for Syria to pause and reconsider and reassess its relations with other Arab states? Is there nobody in Damascus who is ready to reevaluate a number of Syrian policies or tackle the Syrian interpretation of the regional and international status? Shouldn’t somebody reexamine the misconception that Tehran, not Cairo or Riyadh, is the strategic ally of Damascus to correct what the Iranian alliance has caused at the expense of brothers? Is there anybody who is thinking about reconsidering the Lebanese/Syrian ties and rebuilding Damascus’ image for a large part of Lebanese society? What will Damascus lose if it decides unilaterally to reset the borders with Lebanon, exchange ambassadors and send messages to reassure the Lebanese that Syria is a brother to all and does not practice political barricading? What has Damascus benefited by escalating discourse with fellow Arab countries to the extent that they have denounced these countries as traitors and belittled them?

The dilemma with Damascus, like other Arab capitals, is that it does not listen to anyone’s advice or differentiate between those who criticize the Syrian policy out of fear for and love and care of Damascus on one hand and those who hate Syria and rejoice at its misfortune on the other hand. The problem is that there are those who believe that big and unrealistic slogans could build a country and that battling with all parties may lead to success.

It is very sad that Syria will be absent in the process of Arab decision-making and that it believes that its real strategic ally is Tehran. It is regrettable that Syria, which needs the help of its brotherly Arab nations, has chosen isolation and decided to face the world using a language and a manner that is inappropriate for the terminology of this age and does not connect with international interests and relations.

Is it too late for Damascus to reconsider a number of concepts? I do not think so. However, the important thing is to escape the dark tunnel of slogans and enter the world of international relations. Arabs should not abandon Damascus even if Syrian behavior forces them to do so.