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Al-Assad: More dangerous than Gaddafi - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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No sooner had the Libyan uprising begun – following the collapse of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes – with the rebel stronghold Benghazi and other cities in eastern Libya rising up against the Tripoli regime than Colonel Gaddafi ordered the bombardment and brutal suppression of his own people, with the regime utilizing military aircraft, missiles, and even tanks, in an unprecedented and brutal crackdown. France and Qatar moved quickly to break the stalemate on the ground, announcing that the Gaddafi regime had lost its legitimacy. International parties also began to communicate with the Libyan rebels, whose ranks were swelled by former Libyan governmental figures that had defected from the Gaddafi regime. This brutal regime is today drawing its last breath, without anybody exhibiting any sympathy for Colonel Gaddafi.

Today, another brutal Arab regime is carrying out a similarly violent and vicious crackdown against its own unarmed people. The Syrian regime has been systemically suppressing and killing unarmed and peaceful protesters ever since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising approximately 4 months ago. The more the regime brutalizes its own people, the angrier and indeed stronger these protesters become. More than 2,000 innocent civilians have been killed so far in Syria, whilst around 20,000 citizens have been arrested. Reports also indicate that around 18,000 Syrian citizens have been injured in the fighting, whilst 19,000 Syrians have fled the country, seeking refuge in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Today, the al-Assad regime is carrying out a brutal and organized crackdown against the cities that have fallen out of government control, such as Homs, Hama Jisr al-Shughur, Talkalakh, and Zabadani. Military tanks and helicopters are isolating rebel neighbourhoods, shelling suspected buildings, and detaining thousands in schools, hospitals, and sports fields, particularly as the number of Syrians – from all walks of life – taking part in the anti-governmental demonstrations is on the rise.

Now the Syrian regime is arming some pro-regime sectarian elements for the sake of “self-defence.” The objective of this is to incite sectarianism within the ranks of the Syrian revolutionaries, whose demands are clear and plain; namely the overthrowing of the brutal regime which has significantly harmed Syria over the past 4 decades. However what is truly astonishing is the disgraceful international and Arab silence with regards to the heinous crimes committed by the al-Assad regime. We can also see Iran’s “pro-resistance” regime providing significant financial aid to its Syrian counterpart, in order to allow it to confront the internal “sedition.” The reason that Tehran is doing this is common knowledge, namely because Syria represents a “balancing force” for Iran’s political ambitions in the region. If the Damascus regime should collapse, then this would also signify the end for Tehran’s expansionist dreams.

The disgraceful Arab silence with regards to Syria’s criminal actions can be seen in the recent statement made by the new Secretary-General of the Arab League [Nabil el-Araby] following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This statement – and silence – was a cause for shock for the Syrian people demanding freedom. This represents a form of Arab passivity and spinelessness, particularly when viewing an entire people being systematically slaughtered merely to ensure that Bashar al-Assad remains in power which he initially inherited from his father. Yes, this is how affairs are managed in our glorious Arab World! Everyone has had a hand, one way or another, in the ongoing Syrian crackdown against unarmed protesters. Even “Uncle” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who reportedly gave the Bashar al-Assad regime a week to respond to the protesters demands, did nothing after this deadline elapsed. It seems that in Turkey, unlike elsewhere, a week lasts for more than seven days!

As for the Libyan regime, this is a hysterical, ignorant and indeed insane regime; it cannot be taken seriously! Gaddafi is like a caricature of a tyrant. He’s a man who allows his fears and paranoia to run wild and govern his actions and indeed policies. Therefore he is like an insect that can easily be swatted. However the al-Assad regime is far more dangerous. The successive al-Assad regimes have put the Syrian people through hell. The Damascus regime has humiliated and insulted them, unjustly confiscating their properties, falsely imprisoning and detaining Syrian citizens, and even massacring them in cities like Hama, Aleppo, and others. Recently, pro-regime demonstrations were organized in Damascus; this saw supporters of President Bashar al-Assad rallying in Umayyad Square, holding up Syrian flags, and images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his father Hafez al-Assad. However these protesters were transported to the square from surrounding schools and universities and coerced to attend the organized live concern staged by some of the regime’s supports to celebrate Bashar al-Assad’s anniversary as president. Meanwhile, 160 km from the concert venue, the regime’s tanks and armoured vehicles were flattening Homs and shedding the blood of its innocent citizens, resulting in 30 deaths. This did not prevent the concert carrying on until the early hours of the morning, in what could be described as one of the most surreal scenes of the revolution. This reminds us of the Green Square scene outside the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli, when a crowd followed Gaddafi’s instructions to “dance, sing, and rejoice” whilst his battalions were levelling Misrata and other Libyan cities.

This international and Arab silence towards the Syrian crisis is completely unacceptable. The least we could do, as Arabs, is assume an ethical position and condemn Syria’s bloody regime and the atrocities it has been committing against its own people. The Arabs should not feign shock at calls for foreign intervention in order to resolve this crisis. The Arabs perpetual passivity and duplicity with regards to this issue has almost guaranteed this possibility, after they denied the existence of unrest in Syria in the first place, further aggravating the situation by being intent on this shameful silence. Turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by the Syrian regime against its people represents a stigma for everyone involved. Just as the international community announced that Gaddafi had lost his legitimacy, it must also act in the same manner towards the Syrian regime.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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