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Don’t provoke Bashar al-Jaafari | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Whoever enjoys the creative rhetoric that often stems from the Arab mentality of “resistance” should not miss the latest comments issued by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations [UN] General Assembly, Bashar al-Jaafari.

The man has a deep voice, excellent intonation and a classic dramatic appearance, which suggests he could have been a vintage talent on the theatre stage. Perhaps he is now making use of this hidden talent with all his interruptions and interjections in the corridors of the UN.

What I also like about Dr. al-Jaafari’s performance is his gradual move towards escalation. He did not adopt his escalatory and damning discourse from the very start. Rather, al-Jaafari has progressively heightened his tone in proportion with growing international efforts against his superiors’ regime in Damascus. This tactic was clear in his latest vocal performance during a recent UN session, which witnessed Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon presenting his report on the Syrian case. This report confirmed what was already known – by the entire world – about the atrocities recently committed by the al-Assad troops and the “Shabiha” in the city of Homs. In his report, Ban Ki-Moon said that the Syrian regime’s troops had committed flagrant human rights violations and added that he fears the Syrian government might be carrying out summary executions, imprisonment, and acts of torture against the Homs residents.

Addressing the 193-state UN General Assembly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations stated that: “We continue to receive grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture.”

Of course this horrific report was not to the taste of the al-Assad regime’s Permanent Representative to the UN, so he set about presenting a dazzling linguistic performance on the international podium. Al-Jaafari launched his verbal smoke grenades and sonic bombs. He even played on the strings of his friendship with Ban Ki-Moon, and the fact that they are well acquainted, simply assuming that the Secretary-General had been deluded by other member states. Then al-Jaafari began to elaborate in a manner similar to his own President, Bashar al-Assad. He touched upon a plethora of issues, and then stepped down from the podium believing that he had succeeded in blotting out any trace of the heinous crimes committed in Homs, and the Baba Amr district in particular.

Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, ascended to the podium immediately after al-Jaafari. In concise and brief words, he underlined the Saudi, Gulf, Arab, and international position [on Syria], stressing the need to stop the Syrian regime’s killing machine and save the lives of the war-stricken victims, who are being shelled and bombarded by the tanks, planes and missiles of al-Assad’s army. Al-Mouallimi described what was going on in Syria in plain language. No one with the slightest trace of sanity or morals can doubt that what is happening there is a “massacre”, committed by the regime’s troops against Syrian citizens in Homs and other cities; a massacre similar to those perpetrated by the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the mid-1990s.

Al-Jaafari was incensed [by al-Mouallimi’s statement] and decided to respond from his chair using a new tactic and a different tone. This time, he adopted a sweeping offensive position against Saudi Arabia whilst ignoring everyone else. I don’t blame him for this, particularly as Saudi Arabia is the most outspoken voice in describing the actual state of affairs in Syria, as well as with regards to pressuring the al-Assad armed gangs, and in demanding that Arab and international peacekeeping forces be sent to the crisis-stricken Syrian state.

Al-Jaafari talked a lot, but the most exciting moment of all – and I think he was aware of this dramatic climax, which is why he slowed down his pace, stressed his syllables and issued lingering glances towards everyone – was when he arrived at the point of demanding that “UN, Arab and Islamic troops be sent to Saudi Arabia to protect the suppressed residents of the Qatif region”. Al-Jaafari explained that this would be “a voluntary expedition and we want no one to finance it,” as reported by the official Syrian news agency (SANA). Al-Jaafari then went even further and attempted to insult Saudi Arabia, arguing that the country was named after the family title of its founder, whereas he belonged to the “Syrian Arab Republic”. He uttered this remark with the malicious sense of someone who has finally achieved what they set out to do. He then concluded his speech by warning others to refrain from provocation, fearing the backlash.

This kind of sonic assault is not new to the language of the Baathist and progressive regimes. They have always adopted a rhetoric of “superiority”, tainted with an age-old sense of disdain for the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, or the “Bedouins”, as promoted by the “Al-Dunya” and “Syria News” satellite television channels; the mouthpieces of the “pan-Arab” al-Assad regime. These pro-regime advocates have a sort of “hollow” feeling of “pre-eminence” that they believe serves as a psychological deterrence to Gulf residents, and prevents them from interfering in Syria’s affairs. They act on the assumption that Gulf residents fear abuse and ferocious media conflicts, a widely-circulated belief spread by the press during the 1960s and 1970s.

This verbal intimidation may have worked in the past. However, many things have changed today and rivers of blood now flow in the streets of Hama, as well as in the alleyways of Homs, making “the gap between us more than just verbal abuse”.

If I were in the shoes of any Saudi official, I would agree to al-Jaafari’s suggestion to investigate the Qatif incidents and would even fund the proposed expedition, on the condition that other Arab and international troops are dispatched to Homs, Hama, Daraa, Idlib, Jisr ash-Shugur, Jabal al-Zawiya, Deir ez-Zor and Qamishli. That list nearly constitutes the entire afflicted Syrian state, rather than a town in one specific governorate, where some acts of violence have occurred that the Saudi government has acknowledged and has since endeavored to resolve. The Qatif incidents resulted in a few casualties, not tens of thousands of victims killed in cold-blooded massacres filmed on camera – or let us say a systemic genocide. British Journalist Paul Conroy, who miraculously survived the massacre of Homs, recently gave a detailed account of the horrific genocide from his hospital bed to “Sky News”. He said that men, women and children were ruthlessly and relentlessly being annihilated over a span of several weeks, using all manner of weaponry.

The aforementioned absurd comparison [between Qatif and the Syrian crisis] made by Dr. al-Jaafari shows his complete moral recklessness and the Syrian regime’s total disregard for the general public who live in an age where nothing can be hidden thanks to the presence of social networking sites that are voracious in search of every picture, piece of news or even unconfirmed rumor.

The funniest thing was when al-Jaafari thought he could embarrass the Saudis by referring to the name of their state, and how it is not like Syria…the Arab Republic. Al-Jaafari praised the name of the Syrian state in comparison to that of Saudi Arabia’s. So what? What was the point of this? Massacres are being perpetrated on a daily basis by the regime against innocent Syrian civilians. This is the crux of the issue, rather than verbal pedantry that makes no difference.

If only the eloquent “intellectual” al-Jaafari had taken the time and trouble to research, he would have discovered that many countries around the world derive their names from individuals, landmark events, or the nature of the land itself. In order to save him the time, I will highlight the Republic of Bolivia in South America. It is one of the largest countries in the continent and was reportedly named – according to the Encyclopedia Britannica – after the Venezuelan revolutionary and famous General Simon Bolivar, who fought for the liberation of South America from Spanish colonialism. This is just one example of many, and Dr. al-Jaafari could find many more countries and continents whose names are originally derived from individual titles. We have “America” itself, the “Philippines” and even “Syria”, at least according to some ancient myths.

In any case, this is not the issue. It is a marginal issue compared to the abovementioned heinous crimes that are still being committed in Syria, even as I write this article. So does al-Jaafari have a mind and conscience other than that of a child?

If eloquence, theatrical performance, and verbal sparring were enough to prevent bloodshed and grant the Syrian people a decent life away from the butchery of al-Assad and his armed gangs, Bashar al-Jaafari would be a real savior. However, the persistent bloodshed and the false propaganda circulated by the pro-regime media have rendered al-Jaafari’s words meaningless and void.

It is time for action, not words, Ambassador al-Jaafari. And forgive me if you are incensed by a true description of what is happening, and not by the atrocious and horrific events themselves!