Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

More like a “Friends of al-Assad” conference! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If the Tunisian foreign ministry says it will not invite the Syrian National Council (SNC) to the upcoming “Friends of the Syrian People” conference, while both Russia and China will be invited, then the question here is: Who will this conference actually benefit? Or, why was this event not called the “Friends of al-Assad” conference in the first place?

How strange for the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rafik Abdessalem, to say that “there will certainly not be an official SNC representative” at the Friends of the Syrian People conference, indicating that the relevant authorities had “discussed the subject”. He added that “each thing [will come] in time”, hoping to soon see the formation of a Syrian opposition with “real representation”.

The truth is that it is not fair to talk about the Syrian opposition being fragmented, especially in light of al-Assad’s criminal dictatorial regime that has ruled for over forty years, via father and son, but the question is: Who united the Iraqi opposition before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, other than the American Zalmay Khalilzad in London? Who would have united the Libyan opposition were it not for the French and the Qataris? Let us not forget that prior to the fall of Gaddafi; Abdel-Fattah Younis was assassinated, in what did not seem to be an act of vengeance as much as it resembled the killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud, i.e. the removal of a key figure from the political scene in preparation for a new phase.

The Tunisian conference is meant to support the Syrian revolution and send a clear message to the al-Assad regime, not the opposite. Inviting the Russians and Chinese is tantamount to emptying the Tunisian conference of its contents, and this is al-Assad’s forté. The conference scheduled to take place in Tunisia should not serve as a supplement to the Security Council, attended by Moscow and Beijing, but rather it should be a conference making decisions in the interest of the unarmed Syrians, not only to stop the killings, but also to initiate the transitional phase, as per the desire of the Syrian revolution that has been adopted by the Arab League.

So, it seems there is a desire today to hold a conference for the “Friends of al-Assad”, inviting Moscow, Beijing and Beirut, some Arab League officials, and even Cairo, and they can hold this wherever they want. However, the Friends of the Syrian People conference must invite the SNC first and foremost, fully recognizing it of course, as well as those countries active and willing to end the suffering of the Syrians and put an end to al-Assad’s crimes, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, UAE, Jordan, and the Europeans such as France, Britain and Germany, in addition to America. This is in order to carry out real decisions and actions that are felt by the unarmed Syrians, especially those who have been subjected to a devastating bombardment over the past two weeks, namely the people of Homs, Daraa and Idlib.

As I have explained, the Friends of the Syrian People conference must produce decisions and practical steps to provide the Syrian opposition with all types of support, including weapons and the imposition of secure humanitarian corridors, as well as taking possible steps to exert diplomatic efforts, whether in the Security Council again or outside of it. This is in order to put an end to the al-Assad era, and to ensure that the courts can pursue those who have committed crimes against humanity in Syria, in accordance with the recent Arab resolutions.

This is what is required from the Friends of the Syrian People conference, and any gathering that does not adopt such measures must be called the Friends of al-Assad conference!