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When Bashar al-Assad "blinked" first - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Bashar al-Assad accepted the Arab League’s initiative that stipulated conditions to end the fighting, violence and the entire military presence in the streets, towns and cities, release detainees, and engage in a dialogue outside of Syria with the opposition. These were the most prominent terms of the Arab initiative, announced by the Qatari Foreign Minister and the Arab League’s Secretary-General during the press conference which took place in Cairo a few days ago.

On the ground, however, the Syrian regime persisted with its brutal crimes by systematically murdering its own people. Dozens of people are killed every day in different Syrian cities, predominantly in the Syrian revolution’s capital “Homs”, which has transformed into a present-day Kabul or Sarajevo. This is a place where the regime is committing unprecedented crimes such as the bombardment of buildings, indiscriminate barbaric killings, cutting off water and electricity supplies, denying access of foodstuffs and medicine, and imprisoning of dozens of people.

The Syrian regime will not implement the Arab initiative; it is playing for time and only accepted the initiative as a means of prolonging the situation. It is aware that both Russia and China will not stand forever against the international community’s increasing pressure to oust the Syrian regime and end the bloodshed of the unarmed people there. So the next logical step will be to impose no-fly zone, a naval siege, and possible military intervention against the regime.

Today, the Syrian regime realizes that its options are disappearing as it appears as the weaker side in the confrontation. The regime’s acceptance of the Arab initiative came only a few hours after President Bashar al-Assad had given two interviews, one to Russian satellite television and another to the British Sunday Telegraph newspaper, in which he threatened that any intervention in Syria would result in an earthquake in the region that would produce “another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans”, and that he does not see any opposition in Syria nor does he recognize it. Later on, however, he had to “eat” such words and accept the initiative.

However, by accepting the initiative, Bashar simply thought that he would be a “new” Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the sense that the latter accepted the GCC initiative several months ago, but nevertheless has persisted in killing his own people mercilessly.

Yet, Ali Abdullah Saleh is not under the microscope in the same manner as Bashar al-Assad, who has committed crimes against his people as his father did a long time ago. The transfer of power has become the only required and acceptable outcome, and the only dialogue that should take place with this murderous regime now is one that culminates in its end. Now we can understand why the Free Syrian Army has had a more extensive and effective role on the ground, and why there have been continuous large-scale defections from the regime’s military in order to protect the revolutionaries from the tyranny of thugs, security apparatuses and the army.

The Syrian regime has turned into a frantic monster that behaves without logic, awareness or perception, and has lost all the requirements of human sense. Its sole objective now is to maintain the “ruling family”, not even the regime or the Baath party, and so, all its means and capabilities will serve this goal. Last Friday was a remarkable testimony of the Syrian public mobility against the regime; demonstrations took place in all cities and districts on the largest scale since the revolution first erupted.

The regime was not content with the already long list of barbaric crimes that have become the words on everyone’s lips, taking place in front of their eyes in all forms, but it recently committed another atrocity that took place at the heart Damascus University’s campus. This happened when criminal thugs kidnapped and detained a 20-year old female student, Yaman al-Qaderi. They brutally beat hear and then took her into a room and tortured her, whilst everyone could hear her hysteric yells, and no one dared to intervene. She was then dragged into a car and taken to prison, and none of her relatives or colleagues have seen this outstanding medical student, who was born into a prestigious Damascene family, ever since.

This is the regime of Bashar al-Assad and this is a sample of the crimes that it commits against its own people. The free Syrian opposition have stared defiantly, confidently, and convincingly into Bashar al-Assad’s eyes, but he “blinked” first and accepted the initiative, in another display of the regime’s weakness and imminent defeat. Of course, the initiative failed and there is now a need to raise the issue to the international community, so that Bashar al-Assad is deterred in the same manner as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were deterred prior to him. He is no different to them in terms of his stature or the crimes he has committed against his own people.

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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