Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Neither Syria nor the world has changed! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The massacre that is being carried out by the al-Assad regime today against the people of Hama, amidst this saddening Arab silence and international negligence – with no serious international resolutions or decisions being issued to stop this – means that neither the Syrian regime, nor the international community, has changed.

The responses, or lack thereof, to the second Hama massacre suggest that it is possible for Bashar al-Assad and his regime to walk away clean after committing crimes against humanity similar to those committed by his father Hafez al-Assad with regards the 1982 Hama massacre. There were many excuses and justifications for the Arab and international inaction during the first Hama massacre which was carried out by the al-Assad senior regime [in 1982], including the absence of an independent media, regional circumstances, and a succession of other lame excuses. However the massacre being carried out by the al-Assad junior regime today is taking place before the eyes of the Arab world who are kneeling and praying to God during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but are not taking a firm stand against what is happening in Syria. Rather all they have done so far is issue ornate and timid statements [condemning the bloodshed], indeed there are those who have stood with the al-Assad regime against the innocent Syrian protesters, not caring what this looks like. Here we see Lebanon standing side by side with the Damascus regime, with the Lebanese government becoming akin to the al-Assad regime government, in the same manner that Lebanon’s financial centers have also become the financial centers of the Syrian regime. The same goes for Iraq, which confirmed to the world – as well as our own region – that it has not changed. For those Iraqi [political] figures who previously mistrusted the al-Assad regime – both the al-Assad senior and junior regimes – are the same people who are today standing with the Syrian regime, and the reason for this is simple, namely sectarian retrenchment, and so it does not matter if the Syrian regime is killing its own people and even banning Friday prayers!

As for the international community, and despite all the talk about democracy and change, it has also not gone beyond verbal condemnation [of what is happening in Syria]. However we must say that oppressive regimes such as the al-Assad regime do not understand the language of condemnation, but rather view this as a green light to continue their crimes, therefore it would have been better for the UN Security Council to issue sanctions against the regime, including sanctions on the petroleum industry that is funding the killers of the Syrian people, in addition to resorting to the International Criminal Court. This is important as it would represent a clear message to the Damascus regime informing it that the path before it is blocked, even if it succeeds in repressing the Syrian popular uprising, for this would mean that it would not be able to take its place in the international community. This is similar to what happened to Saddam Hussein following Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, and it would also mean that the Syrian regime would be unable to utilize [political] extortion as one of the future as sources of its foreign policy.

As one thing reminds us of another, the international community today must also review the mechanism with regards to how certain countries join the UN Security Council [as non-permanent members]. Is it logical, for example for Lebanon to be granted a seat on the UN Security Council to vote on important international issues when it is not responsible for its own decisions? The international community saw how the Lebanese government attempted to sell its abstention from voting [on the UN Security Council presidential statement on the Syrian crisis], telling the al-Assad regime that it would abstain as it finds itself in an awkward international position, then telling its own people, and the rest of the world, that this abstention is part of a “policy of positive neutrality.” The question that we must ask the people of Lebanon here is: what happens if countries decide to abstain from voting in Lebanon’s favor with regards to issues such as Israeli aggression, for fear of being placed in an awkward international position, in the same manner that Lebanon acted with regards to Syria? This is not right, and the excuse is worse than the crime!

Therefore we say that what is happening today in Hama has revealed one thing, namely that unfortunately neither Syria nor the international community nor the Arabs have changed!