Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Has Makhlouf’s message got through? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The action in the Golan Heights and in South Lebanon for the first time ever in commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba means that the Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf really meant what he said; that if Syria had no security then Israel would have no security.

The Syrian regime wants less of Makhlouf’s comments and the Syrian Minister of Information said that Makhlouf’s statements do not reflect the opinion of the regime; however facts and history tell us otherwise. Damascus is ready to sacrifice every last Palestinian in order to serve its own goals without even having to fire a single bullet into the air. Today we are seeing this attempt to exploit the anniversary of the Nakba by having the Palestinians storm the Israeli-Syrian borders via the Golan Heights and the same thing happened in South Lebanon. This means that Damascus decided to distract the world from its barbaric repression of the peaceful protests by turning towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also wanted to send a message to Israel that further emphasises what Makhlouf said; that there will not be stability in Israel as long as there is no stability in Syria.

Of course this is frustrating as these conflicts [on the borders] did not break out for the sake of liberation but to prolong the survival of the Syrian regime. But this is considered shameful evidence of the extent to which the Palestinian cause is exploited. It is also an important indicator that Syria has not been able, at least until now, to bring Hamas’ rockets into action this time in Gaza and so far Hezbollah has not set off any Katyusha rockets or the like from South Lebanon. This, of course, has important significance as it means that Hamas is not betting on the Syrian regime and that Hezbollah is well aware that there is no sympathy for it in the Arab world today. So Hezbollah is fully aware that opening the border with Israel from Lebanon now will be costly and shameful in the eyes of Arab public opinion because [it will demonstrate that] defending the Syrian regime comes before the peaceful and real demands of the people. Hezbollah realizes that part of the protests in Syria today is against Iran and against Hezbollah itself and the Arab world will not be willing to defend Hezbollah in a new absurd war, in fact it does not even have the capability [for this].

This issue should serve as a warning not only in our region but also in the US when Obama gives his speech to the Arab world as this is the same game i.e. exploitation of the Palestinian cause. But what is new is that it is being done openly and in a crude manner. Let us be clear here; there is nothing wrong with the Palestinians demonstrating in the Palestinian Occupied Territories on the anniversary of the Nakba – but what is new is the Palestinians entering Israel via Syria and the borders at the Golan Heights, as well as movement from South Lebanon. Therefore the message is clear and the goal has been exposed – the Syrian regime is trying to move on [from its troubles] by threatening Israel and it has become easy for the regime to oppress the Syrians under the old slogan that “no voice is louder than the cry of battle.”

Today, the cards have been revealed and it does not take a genius to interpret and understand what they say. Rami Makhlouf’s message has gotten through but has it reached the Arabs and the West with the same level of clarity? That is the question.