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Omar Suleiman in Damascus! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Since the start of the demonstrations in Syria we have seen and heard all kinds of things, whether in the accounts of the state media, or the pro-regime media outlets. Yet worse still of course, is what is being said by a number of Syrian analysts who appear on Arab satellite news channels.

With the outbreak of protests in Syria, we first heard that those behind the unrest were Palestinian groups, then it was claimed they were from Jordan, and then the Syrians returned to say that it was a conspiracy plotted by Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Jeffrey Feltman. Then the Syrians said the protests were funded by the Lebanese Future Movement, lodging accusations at Jamal al-Jarrah, and of course Saad Hariri. Once again the Syrian media returned, in the form of official and pro-regime outlets, to say that the protestors were a Salafi group, and capped it off by saying that the Syrian army had entered Daraa to deal with terrorists. Finally, an official source announced that the Syrian troops had entered Daraa to prevent the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the city!

These accounts are invalid, incorrect and contradictory to each other. However, the most ridiculous story currently being promoted by some Syrian analysts is that the Syrian unrest is due to the presence of cells inside the country, loyal to General Omar Suleiman, the former Egyptian Vice President, and former intelligence chief before that. Syrian analysts corroborate this claim by saying that such information has been circulated in the Israeli press for some time!

This is both ridiculous and pathetic. Omar Suleiman was unable to create cells in Gaza, in order to deter Hamas when it undertook its coup, or when it attacked the former Egyptian regime, let alone could he deploy cells to give rise to riots in Syria. The matter is even more ludicrous when we consider that Omar Suleiman is a man with no power today, and has been so for several weeks, so how could he mobilize his cells now? One witty observer commented that perhaps after the Syrian authorities cut off means of communication in the country, these cells were unable discover that the whole Egyptian regime had been overthrown, not just Omar Suleiman. Consequently, perhaps the Syrian authorities restored communications to these cut-off areas so that the cells would realize that Omar Suleiman was now at home, and no longer has any authority! True, this is a ridiculous comment, but how can you deal with such claims without commenting sarcastically?

One may argue that such claims are not fooling anyone, and we presume this is true, but when we see Arab satellite channels providing airtime for such nonsense this is not acceptable. Of course, I am not saying that these channels should only put forward one point of view, but when there is such a magnitude of contradiction between various Syrian accounts of the situation, respectable satellite channels should put an end to this type of analysis, which is only counter-productive, and bad for both states and individuals. We have seen a large part of the Lebanese media, with close links to Syria, promoting such lies. This could be expected from a strategic or tactical media outlet, but not a credible one. It is certainly not acceptable from any form of serious media, especially as the Syrian president himself has said that the demands of the protestors are legitimate.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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