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Syria: How long will the international silence last? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When the Mubarak regime used camels and mules to attack the protestors in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the whole world joined together in demanding an end to the regime. From Washington to London, through Paris and even Ankara, everyone said that the Mubarak regime must end. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime is sending its army and armored vehicles to suppress unarmed civilians, and we do not hear any worthwhile calls from the international community for this to end.

Certainly, today we are witnessing hypocrisy from the international community, but the question is: how long will this international silence last, with regards to what is happening to the defenseless Syrians? It is clear, unfortunately, that the international community is waiting for tomorrow, Friday, for if there is a repeat of what happened last Friday in Syrian cities, then the international community will understand that it is imperative to stand with the Syrian people. If the demonstrations do not occur in the same vein as last week, or are no worse, then the international community will not make a move unless the number of Syrian victims reaches thousand or higher, even though the current death toll is nearing five hundred and, this is a very depressing matter.

The international community’s rhetoric about stability in the region is unconvincing, for if the U.S. administration, along with the French and the British, were keen on the stability of the region as a whole, as they say they are, then they would find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are many solutions, but they require sincere political leadership, and this is something the Obama administration has not shown so far. If the West was keen on the stability of the region, then how could it exercise such immense pressure on the Mubarak regime to leave “now”, as the Americans said, whilst maintaining a dubious silence towards what is happening in Syria. Therefore, it is clear today that the West is keen only to protect the Syrian-Israeli border, which has been secure since the 1970s, and this is what the West means when it talks about stability.

Meanwhile Daraa, Duma and Banias, amongst others, are cut off from the world and news and images are scarce, for media coverage has been prevented there for the third day in a row. Note that even in inflamed warzones a media presence is permitted, however in the case of Syria this is almost impossible. Yet with all that, we find that the international community remains silent, with conflicting statements, showcasing many faces.

Therefore, it is clear that the West is faced with two choices. If tomorrow is a Friday like last week, where demonstrations occurred in many Syrian cities, then the West will know that repression cannot overcome the Syrian uprising, especially as a repeat of last Friday’s demonstrations would make it difficult for the Syrian regime to deploy its army in every Syrian town and city that is experiencing protests. Subsequently, the international community will choose to rise against the regime, or unfortunately remain silent until the death toll rises above one thousand.

Without doubt, what is happening in Syria against the defenseless is highly distressing, but Friday will be the decisive day, or will help clarify the real scene in the country. When the worshipers leave the Friday prayers, we will know which direction the Syrians will take, and how the international community will deal with events in Syria.

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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