Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Aleppo is not a surprise | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The reaction of the international community, and likewise the Arab and Western media, towards the explosion of huge demonstrations in Aleppo is infuriating. When I say infuriating, this is because there is an overriding sentiment that Aleppo has “surprised everyone”, and this is not the case. Aleppo may have surprised the al-Assad regime, because it is detached from reality, but it should not have surprised the global media and the international community.

When a revolution has been on-going for over 14 months, like the Syrian revolution, in a country ruled by an oppressive and sectarian regime, this means, clearly, that under the ashes there is a genuine fire, and that it is fuelling the unrest. When I say that the response towards the demonstrations in Aleppo is infuriating, this is because some, in fact many, have continued to express their surprise throughout the Syrian revolution, and in fact throughout the bulk of the momentous events in our region, whether over the past two decades or with regards to what will happen in the coming decade. With all respect to those who said, or say, that no one could have predicted what happened with the so-called Arab Spring, the course of events in our region, since the time of Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait until a year ago, or even up to today, suggest that a real moment of explosion was coming to the region, and if you go back through what has been written in this newspaper, and others, you will find many warnings.

Politics, in its practical form, is not a weather bulletin. The results can be predicted wrongly, recklessly or correctly, and if any serious researcher, for example, wanted to study the conditions of our region, then they would begin from the moment of Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait, or perhaps before, to find that the political “tectonic plate” of Arab security, and the relations between the Arabs, had ruptured or become cracked, and so a barrage of earthquakes would inevitably strike the region. The question here was never about whether we would see earthquakes of revolutions, coups or government collapses, the only matter of contention was the details. After all, he who doesn’t die by the sword dies by other means.

If we consider, for example, the phenomenon of terrorism that has struck the region, the story goes back to the errors that were made after the so-called Jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, where no one cared after that war about the foreign fighters there, or the transitional phase in Afghanistan. The same goes for Yemen, where all indicators, for many years, suggested that Yemen was going through a real crisis that would be reflected on the neighboring countries, and here we only have to consider the most obvious example of the Huthis. In Egypt, the crisis of power bequeathal and corruption, combined with the population explosion, poverty and unemployment, would constitute a deadly recipe for any regime. As for Iran, ever since the Khomeini revolution, the region has suffered from Iranian infiltrations and draining measures, and a killer sectarian disease has spread throughout the Middle East. This has been dismissed by many, yet today here we are facing Iran not only Lebanon but also in Yemen, Bahrain and Iraq. Some may be amazed to find on YouTube a video recording of the late Jamal Abdel Nasser, warning of the Syrian army transforming into a sectarian entity whereby the Alawites would be empowered at the expense of the other sects in Syria!

What I am trying to say is that it is time to stop being surprised by the events in our region. Instead we must proceed to activate institutional, monitoring and analysis work, and interact with the events as they happen. What is most important for the Arab world today is to challenge the bloody regime in Syria, because it threatens the security of the entire region.