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A Dilemma Strikes Syria! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem spoke at great length about the US air raid that struck Syria recently with such emotion that reflected Damascus’ shock and dilemma, especially considering the large number of security incidents that have taken place over the course of one year in Syria.

When Walid al Muallem was asked whether his country would respond to any US raids in the future, he said that whilst the question is conditional then the answer is that Syria would have to defend its territories should it happen again, i.e. next time and not now.

Today’s reality dictates that the majority of us believe that the cards that were in Syria’s hands that could have been played on the Arab and international level with the Americans, Israelis and Europeans, but have in fact been burnt by the Syrians themselves before being utilized.

The Syrians did not benefit practically from announcing the opening of an embassy in Iraq, nor did France provide any protection for Damascus from American and Israeli discipline. Moreover, its Iranian ally did not rush to help and we all know how the saying goes: a friend in need is a friend indeed.

On the other hand, the American air raid on the Abu Kamal village in Syria follows a chain of events that took place within the course of one year that shocked Syrian society and its regime. They were major incidents with internal implications for Syria.

Of course, such operations have had an impact externally, on both the Arab and international levels, from the Israeli strike on Dir A-Zour and the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh that took place in a high security zone, to the killing of Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, a security figure who oversaw problematic missions, as well as other events.

The dilemma today is that following the Israeli strike, Syria embarked upon indirect negotiations with Israel and after al Muallem’s meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, America struck a blow against Syria, so what is Damascus going to do? How will it justify its mobilization of thousands of troops on the northern border with Lebanon based on the pretext that it is preventing the infiltration of extremists whilst its borders are subjected to infiltration on all sides without any reaction at all whether direct or indirect?

It is evident that Washington has taken the approach of carrying out special operations in regions that it considers problematic regarding its security without having to resort to direct military confrontation. The fear here is that the US raid on Syrian territories will happen again.

Damascus today is like a cart that is traveling along a rocky path with its passenger in continuous pain. This is a headache internally and an embarrassment externally and a situation that nobody outside of Syria envies.

It has gone from a country where everybody was pushing for cooperation because all the cards were in its favor giving the ability to turn the tables, into a country that has started to burn its influential cards in a disturbing manner.

Al Muallem’s comments on Iraqi claims that extremists are still infiltrating Iraq through Syria revealed the magnitude of emotions involved when he expressed his belief that nobody with a single drop of Arab blood would justify the US raid.

But it appears that al Muallem has missed the most important point: if the situation reaches boiling point, Arab blood might evaporate altogether!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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