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Al-Assad regime playing for time - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We are facing a new absurd diplomatic phase between the international community and the Bashar al-Assad regime that is attempting to play for time as usual, and this is what it has been doing for a full year of the Syrian revolution. However the last such game it has played is the “no-paper” game, which took place between al-Assad and the UN envoy Kofi Annan.

For after everybody was waiting for al-Assad’s response regarding what was proposed by Mr. Annan, the al-Assad Foreign Ministry spokesman came out to say that “Kofi Annan presented during his recent visit to Syria ‘no-paper’ suggestions to exchange views on them, and the Syrian ‘no-paper’ response to those suggestions was very objective and of an illustrative character of the way the preliminary suggestions are to be implemented.” This is concise language that confirms that the al-Assad regime is not talking about steps proposed by Mr. Annan, but rather it is talking about “an informal proposal for the exchange of views” which were not put forward to the al-Assad regime in writing, and which the tyrant’s regime also did not respond to in writing, in other words what is happening – simply speaking – is non-binding, valueless, empty talk.

From here, it becomes clear that the al-Assad regime is not taking Annan’s mission seriously, and is not considering the weight of the international community, for so long as the al-Assad regime does not see fleets being deployed or the flow of arms to the opposition, it will not believe anything, in the same manner as previous such regimes, whether we are talking about Saddam or Gaddafi. If al-Assad does not hear the roar of airplanes, he will not be deterred. For everything that the al-Assad regime had heard and seen until now is mere agitation, nothing more and nothing less, whether from his enemies or his friends. Al-Assad, for example, is not concerned about the scolding he received from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a Q & A session at the Russian State Duma, during which Lavrov said “unfortunately, our advice is reflected practically in his action far from all the time and far from in a timely manner.” He added “he [al-Assad] had approved useful laws reviving the system and making it more pluralistic, but it had been done after a long delay.” Lavrov also confirmed that the proposal to begin national dialogue in Syria was also “slow”, warning that this “inertia” may “ultimately engulf everyone.”

All of this fails to concern al-Assad, even when he heard yesterday that Moscow, for the first time, had allowed US troops to use its territory to carry out operations targeting Afghanistan, and even if there are some in the al-Assad regime who are asking: if Russia is so concerned about the US pervasion in the region, wouldn’t they refuse to allow the US to use Russian territory? However this development will also not concern al-Assad, despite the fact that it is an important indicator!

Therefore, what will convince al-Assad – and those close to him – of danger is when he sees a buffer zone being established, the flow of arms [to the opposition], and the deployment of fleets, via a coalition of the willing, rather than the UN Security Council. This is the only language that the al-Assad regime understands, rather than verbal messages, particularly as this regime cast aside the fig leaf long ago!

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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