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Syria: The King stands with the people - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The main theme of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s statement addressed to Syria is that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has now decided to publicly stand with the Syrian people against the brutal suppression being carried out by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

The King’s statement represents the strongest and most prominent position taken with regards to the brutal suppression taking place in Syria; this is a position that has exceeded all other announced Arab and international positions. Whilst it is true that the Saudi position was overdue, I wish every delay ended with such a moral and responsible position being taken. Saudi Arabia’s value and station is not in its position as an oil-producing country, but because it is the land of the Two Holy Mosques. Syria is a dear Arab sister state, and so Saudi Arabia’s duty is to stand with the Syrian people, for this means standing with humanity in general.

The importance of the King’s statement on Syria is that it has been issued by an Arab monarch who has been extremely patient with Bashar al-Assad. King Abdullah has been extremely patient with al-Assad for years; he has extended his hand in friendship to him and tried to embrace the Syrian president, giving him one opportunity after another, both privately and publicly. King Abdullah was patient with al-Assad following the assassination of [Lebanese Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri, and he even tried to protect Syria. He was patient with al-Assad following the 2006 war in Lebanon, despite all the insults that were issued by al-Assad himself [towards Saudi Arabia]. King Abdullah announced an Arab reconciliation in Kuwait and tried to return Bashar al-Assad to the ranks of the Arabs, despite Arab opposition to this at the time; the Saudi monarch tried to embrace al-Assad in the same manner that he tried to embrace Iraq prior to the US invasion of the country, when he shook hands with [then Iraqi Vice President] Izzat al-Douri during the Arab Summit in Beirut. The Saudi monarch’s actions in this regard were solely out of concern for Arab states, in the face of chaos and destruction.

The Saudi monarch was also patient with al-Assad with regards to Syria’s actions in Lebanon, and this was despite the Damascus regime’s policy of procrastination and delay. King Abdullah has always preferred to follow a policy of good intentions, whilst Bashar al-Assad prefers to complicate issues, and he continued to direct insults at Saudi Arabia. Since the Saudi monarch has always been able to see the big picture, and has never been troubled by pettiness, King Abdullah visited Damascus last year, and later invited al-Assad to join him in visiting Beirut, even flying the Syrian president to the Lebanese capital in his own private jet. However the Syrian regime has always failed to fulfill the promises it makes, and so it continued to issue insults [towards Saudi Arabia] and delay and procrastinate, and this is not to mention Syria endangering Arab security by involving Iran in the Arab scene.

Since the Saudi monarch is looking at the bigger picture, and is concerned about Arab bloodshed, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz has today intervened and announced this historic and responsible position towards Syria; namely he announced Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of the killing of innocent people in Syria. King Abdullah was clear when he called on the al-Assad regime to implement widespread and comprehensive reform and not go back on its promises in this regard. In other words, the Saudi monarch wants to tell Bashar al-Assad: stop killing your own people and cheapening Syrian blood…there is no longer any room for delay or procrastination. King Abdullah’s words were also followed by action, with the Saudi monarch recalling his country’s ambassador to Damascus.

Therefore, King Abdullah’s statement represents clear evidence and a practical response to everybody who has said that Saudi Arabia stands with [Arab] governments against the Arab people, during this historic period in our region. King Abdullah’s statement reveals that Saudi Arabia is not a country that is against change, but rather a country that rejects destruction and devastation. Some people have forgotten that the al-Assad regime – and those who are following in its footsteps – criticize Saudi Arabia for its rational position in this regard, however the truly rational people are those who stand up to protect the innocent people from a regime that utilizes false slogans and suppresses and kills its own people.

The question that must be asked today to those Arabs who have remained silent is: what are you waiting for?

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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