The Arab League, having put forth a commendable initiative to resolve the crisis in Syria, is now dealing with the Syrian regime with sincere, diplomatic language. It has offered the regime a draft solution, given the Syrian government enough time to implement it, and promised that matters will improve if the regime adheres to the initiative’s provisions. Here the Arab League has been negotiating with one party of the crisis equation, namely the Syrian regime. The second party, the opposition, were mere spectators watching these events take place, whilst they remain divided. The Syrian National Council (SNC) is desperately seeking to export the crisis file to the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, the National Coordination Committee (NCC) is hoping for the miracle of the regime repairing and reforming itself. Thus it has taken on the role of the perfume maker, seeking to cover up what tyranny and old age have long destroyed. Yet with the Arab League’s invitation for the opposition to convene and unite in Cairo, the League’s historic, national and humanitarian role has prioritised Syria’s general interests over the specifics of individual struggles.
Let’s remember that the Syrian revolution originally broke out with a simple list of demands. Some of them come under the promised reforms loudly aired in the corridors of power. However, those demands detracted from their original course when the protestors were met with unjustifiable violence from security forces. The violence was interpreted as a pre-emptive strike, with the regime fearing that the masses would dare to imitate the revolutionaries of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen or Libya. Then the ceiling of demands was raised after the regime committed premeditated murders, opened fire on the demonstrators, tortured dissidents in detention camps, and humiliated the protesters. Demands soon reached their peak with calls to overthrow the regime. At that point the fear barrier, which the regime had been consolidating for decades, was broken. In the past, ordinary citizens who refused to hang Hafez al-Assad’s picture on their house walls were thrown into prison. Senior officials in security apparatuses monopolized state affairs, top government positions, and internal and external investments.
Every household in every Syrian governorate has a father, son, husband or relative who was killed, arrested or tortured by the security forces. It is no longer a case of demanding freedom, dignity and social justice, despite the importance of these values championed by the traditional opposition which has a long history of arrest and displacement. Those who stage protests every day are now blood guardians; having lost their relatives and beloved ones since March 2011, without them having committed any crime. The only thing that can satisfy these blood guardians now is for Bashar al-Assad to be forced out of his den or hole, dead or alive. This is the strongest motivation of all which has transformed young people into powerful, relentless protesters, embracing death with open arms. Every one of them joins the protest marches knowing that they might not return home, and indeed many do not. Then their brothers and neighbours continue to march and do not return, and so on and so forth. These protesters have set a shining example of bravery beyond all imagination. This is why the Syrian regime has not implemented the Arab initiative’s provisions, because this would mean an acknowledgment that it is being overpowered by the protesters.
The banners raised by these brave demonstrators have often placed a lot of blame upon the Arab League. It has been a source of blame ever since the “God is with us” marches on Friday August 5th 2011, following the protestors’ repeated appeals for Arab intervention. The truth is that the 200 martyrs who have fallen since the launch of the Arab initiative are the unfortunate price for the gradual escalation required for political action. Let us not forget that we nearly lost Kuwait in the beginning of the 1990s, amidst a serious Arab rift at the League’s negotiating table. Despite its lack of a mechanism for implementing any decisions, the Arab League’s intervention in the Syrian crisis with this initiative, which is considered part of a long term plan, will kill off any hope the regime’s allies still had of maintaining or defending it. The League must maintain this intensity and urge the world to resolve the crisis and protect civilians, through referring the issue to the UN Security Council. The Arab League should not claim to do what it cannot.
The Arab Initiative is not only an opportunity to protect the Syrian revolutionaries from the regime’s unbridled brutality, but also a means to revive the Arab League’s deteriorating reputation, having grown into a soulless establishment; hesitant, weak and ostracized by the Arab street. We must mention here that the main reason for the decline in the Arab League’s stature was the membership of al-Assad’s Syria, Gaddafi’s Libya, Saleh’s Yemen and al-Bashir’s Sudan. The Arab League is like any country, whenever it is controlled by tyrants, it bears the character of a suppressed citizen.