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Syria: From Doha to the Security Council | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said that since Russia has presented its own draft resolution on Syria to the UN Security Council, the Arabs will do the same and take their initiative on Syria to the Security Council. Are we now facing competing Arab, Russian and Iraqi initiatives, or have the Arabs, specifically the Arab League Ministerial Committee, come to the conviction that the al-Assad regime only deals in trickery?

Of course, no one has a definitive answer, but some details can help us provide a useful analysis. For example, in Doha yesterday, the Arab League Ministerial Committee meeting on Syria was akin to an exercise in procrastination and time wasting by the al-Assad regime. True, no one attended the meeting from the Syrian regime, but there were those that defended it fiercely, such as the Algerian contingent. Information suggests that the Algerians were hinting at withdrawing [from the initiative], something they have done repeatedly. However, when they were asked why not maintain [the Arab pressure] rather than withdraw from it, they retreated from the threat! This is not all, of course, for a lot of time was spent in the meeting discussing whether to change the expression contained in the Arab League resolution on Syria from “protection of civilians” to “protecting of citizens”. After a long debate, and two phone calls from [Syrian Foreign Minister] Walid Muallem to the Arab League Secretary General [Nabil Elaraby], in addition to a phone call from an international lawyer claiming to represent the al-Assad regime, a new expression was put forward, namely “protection of unarmed citizens”, but this was also rejected by the al-Assad regime.

This is the crux of the matter. Namely the debate over the term “civilians”, “citizens”, and “unarmed citizens”, indicates that the al-Assad regime is not serious, especially as its killing machine has not stopped, but rather has been intensifying ever since the Arabs mobilized over the Syrian issue. There are approximately 50 killings taking place per day, and information suggests that the al-Assad regime is planning further delays and procrastination, and even if it signs [an initiative] at the last minute, it will still stall when it comes to its implementation. Certainly, the Syrian bloodshed will not stop, especially whilst the al-Assad regime continues to delay, and not just with the Arabs. According to informed sources, the Russians over the past few days have also tried to pressure the Syrians to sign the Arab initiative. [Syrian Vice President] Farouk al-Sharaa was supposed to visit Moscow tomorrow, but the trip was cancelled or postponed, because the al-Assad regime insisted that the meeting in Moscow be held with the Russian President, or Prime Minister, but the Russians insisted that it would be held with their foreign minister, something that the al-Assad regime did not approve of!

All of this tells us one fact. The mere thought of reaching a practical solution to the situation in Syria, with the consent and cooperation of the al-Assad regime, is nothing but a delusion. Therefore it is not enough to transfer the Arab initiative from Doha to the UN Security Council, but rather we must also launch a genuine diplomatic campaign to ensure that the UN Security Council takes action as soon as possible. This is our obligation, namely to protect the Syrian civilians from the al-Assad killing machine. Here the role lies with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey, France and the United States.