Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Are the Friends of Syria part of the problem? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In Saturday’s edition of Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian dissident Mr. Fayez Sara wrote an op-ed entitled “Foreign interventions in Syria”, in which he talked about those who are supporting the regime, and those who are supporting the Syrian revolution. The crux of his article was that it is the regime that has benefitted from these foreign interventions, not the revolution.

The aforementioned op-ed may prove to be highly provocative, especially the part where Sara said: “The stance of the international and regional bloc that supports the popular movement in Syria is weak, hesitant and incoherent. At times, this is dominated by the media, propaganda and inherent contradictions; this fails to provide any form of serious and tangible assistance [to the revolution]”. Mr. Sara was drawing a comparison between those who support the revolution and those who support the regime, and we find that Iran and Russia are actually supporting the al-Assad regime with weapons, funding and political stances, whilst those sympathetic with the Syrian revolution do not have particularly influential or concrete stances. The truth is that what Mr. Sara argued in his article is very important and warrants much debate. I am prompted to say this after seeing some of the recent episodes of the hugely significant televised political debates being hosted by the famous American media figure Charlie Rose, such as the recent interview he conducted with current US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and former US Secretary of State James Baker. In this interview, it was surprising that Baker – a friend to many of the countries sympathetic to the Syrian revolution –said that the US should not get involved in arming the Syrian uprising and that it may be more useful to instead call for early elections in Syria. Baker added that al-Assad should be allowed to participate in these elections, which should also take place under strict international monitoring in order to prevent any election fraud. Baker argued that should al-Assad win these elections then so be it, whilst if he were to lose then he would leave power and a new president would come in!

Of course, this is an alarming oversimplification, what about the 14,000 people killed at the hands of the tyrant al-Assad? What about international laws? It is also frightening that Secretary of State Clinton says that the problem of unifying the Syrian opposition still persists. I say this is frightening because we know how America – and its allies – united the Iraqi opposition against Saddam Hussein in London, and how France and others, including some Arab states, united the Libyan opposition against Gaddafi. We also remember how France previously gave Ahmad Shah Massoud a hero’s welcome in Paris! Hence, what Mr. Sara said is important and deserves reflection because it is clear that those who are sympathizing with the Syrian opposition, whether Arab or Westerners, have failed to even convince their closest allies and influential friends in America’s decision-making circles, for example, of the importance of al-Assad’s ouster. This is something that would relieve the Syrian people’s suffering and ensuring that the region as a whole avoids an imminent threat. If this is not the case, how do we explain a politician of James Baker’s stature – a friend to the Gulf – believing that there should be no foreign intervention in Syria to support the revolutionaries, but instead calling for early elections, despite all the well-known lies of the al-Assad regime? How can we still find Hillary Clinton talking about the unification of the Syrian opposition?

Certainly there is something wrong here, and the blame lies with those who sympathize with the Syrian revolution, because there is something wrong in the way they are dealing with the tyrant of Damascus. The most prominent mistake is the lack of leadership and the failure to take responsibility in a clear manner, particularly as we are all well aware of the danger posed by the survival of the al-Assad regime or the collapse of the situation in Syria, and that this is something that will impact upon everyone without exception.