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Syria: Empty Statements Abound | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad riddled with holes is seen on the facade of the police academy in Aleppo, after it was captured by Free Syrian Army fighters, March 4, 2013. (Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano)

The Syrian people have gotten used to hearing statements characterized by empty superficial rhetoric that seems say both everything and nothing.

Many people have called on the Syrians to stop the violence and killing, but such statements are the purview of those who don’t want to commit themselves to an explicit position, whether to support Bashar Al-Assad and his security forces or to back the armed opposition in a clear and decisive manner. This would include, at the very least, removing Assad and his regime from the scene, if not seeking to bring him to account for his crimes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now charting this precise course, expressing anger at the bloody violence taking place in Syria and calling on all sides to stop the violence. This represents something of a retreat after the Russian narrative had previously been based completely on adopting the discourse put forward by the Assad regime.

Some entertainment and media figures are also now getting involved, particularly in Lebanon and Syria. This includes those who are seeking to secure their popularity in the Arab world while at the same time supporting the Assad regime, either out of fear of what the Assad regime will do, or a genuine conviction that the Damascus regime is right.

In fact, this has even reached the stage where some “stars” of the Islamic entertainment scene are now getting involved. Just days ago, the British-based Islamic singer/songwriter Sami Yusuf visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Yusuf, who was born in Tehran but brought up in Britain, visited the refugee camp as part of a World Food Program tour.

He described the visit as one which stirred up strong emotions but held off from commenting on the political situation in Syria, saying that he was praying for all sides. Middle East Online quoted Yusuf as saying, “People ask me about the political aspects of what is happening, there is a lot of tension and I do not get involved in politics. In reality, I don’t know anything about the political situation, this is not my field. What I pay attention to is the humanitarian plight on both sides. I sincerely call for an end to the killing from the bottom of my heart.”

Such statements do not demonstrate any explicit or clear position. In fact, the main objective of statements such as this is to conceal any clear position, whether out of a desire not to reveal one’s true viewpoint, or to conceal ignorance and lack of understanding of the complexities of the Syrian crisis.

On the other hand, such demands are neither reasonable nor practical. Nobody is going to give up the fight at this point, neither the regime nor the opposition. In this case, it is clear that those who are making such demand either have no true position of their own or are simply confused.

This absurd situation is the result of regional and international inability to curb the Syrian crisis. This has led everybody to switch to the rhetoric of hope rather than working on the ground to change the reality of the situation.

In this case, we can only thank the world at large for these confused and meaningless statements, from Washington to Sami Yusuf.