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Why this silence? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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This is a truly baffling question: Why is the Arab World maintaining its incomprehensible silence with regards to the “massacres” openly carried out by the Syrian regime, in broad daylight, against its own citizens protesting for an end to suppression?

Why were the Arabs so “outspoken” about Libya’s uprising to the extent that some contributed with money and arms to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi’s regime and Jamahiriya, whilst keeping their lips sealed with regards to Syria’s atrocities?

In Libya, the militias battling against the regime are supported by NATO aircraft and missiles. In other words, the Gaddafi regime is fighting armed groups reinforced with international aerial cover, whilst the Syrian regime is combating, or more accurately butchering, unarmed civilians who can only chant slogans, scream in pain, and sacrifice themselves. Let us put aside Jisr al-Shugur and what has been said about protesters wielding weapons there. We are talking about what happened earlier in Daraa, Latakia, Homs and al-Qamishli, along with other places where the protestors were completely unarmed.

If the rationale behind the explicit political and military Arab intervention in Libya is the killing of “civilians” by Gaddafi’s battalions, in Syria the civilians are being shelled by the army’s fourth division, and run down by tanks without receiving the protection of NATO aircraft.

The Arab League eventually issued a timid statement through its “fading” Secretary General Amr Musa, and articulated carefully chosen words about its “concern” over Syria’s current events. Yet the Syrian regime did not accept this expression of concern on the part of the Arab League. Thus it began, along with its protégé Lebanese propagandists, who proved to be even more zealous, to level accusations of treason and collaboration with the US and Zionist enemies. Through such allegations, Syria’s regime has been able to justify its crimes against protesters, including mutilating the body of the teenager Hamza al-Khattib, as well as kidnapping and torturing other civilians.

As my colleague Tariq Alhomayed has reiterated, as well as other writers like Dawood al-Shuryan, this Arab silence has drawn utter amazement. The incomprehensible attitude toward Syria’s tragedy is a major ethical and political predicament for the Arabs, especially the Gulf States. Erdogan’s Turkey has begun to adopt more explicit positions against the atrocities and obstinacy of Syria’s regime, as France did previously, whereas the Arab and Gulf States have continued to maintain a perplexing silence.

The Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey in their thousands have expressed anger, as published in this newspaper, at the inexplicable international and Arab silence regarding their tragedy. I believe the Syrian blood being shed relentlessly will soon expose everyone, including the Obama administration, which justified its military and political intervention in Libya on moral and humanitarian grounds, whilst turning a blind eye to the more explicit ethical and political scandal in Syria.

Here I am not calling for a similar military intervention, for this could ignite the whole region. I am merely examining the logic through which everyone has justified their intervention in Libya. Strangely enough, those who applauded and hailed the Syrian regime’s crackdown, from its protégés and Hezbollah’s propagandists, maintained total silence towards the participation of NATO aircraft and US missiles in the campaign against the Gaddafi regime. Furthermore, they even sang the praises of Libya’s revolutionaries.

Now Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman has come out to condemn any faint possibility of a US or European intervention in Syria, in response to the crimes committed by the regime against its civilian population. What a shame! Either you clearly reveal your motives for intervention in any location, without pretending to uphold humanitarian principles, or you apply these principles to each and every case without discrimination.

What is happening in Syria has far exceeded the sins and injustices committed by Gaddafi, Mubarak, Ben Ali or even Saleh.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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