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Syria: The US elections ceasefire - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As was expected, the Eid al-Adha ceasefire in Syria – proposed by Lakhdar Brahimi – did not hold. This ceasefire was broken by the al-Assad regime which fired on crowds of Syrian demonstrators. The reality is that there was nothing surprising in the regime breaching the ceasefire, for this was expected, as were the regime’s excuses and justifications.

Of course, nobody can say that the international community is continuing to test al-Assad; rather it is doing everything in its power to reach a political agreement with him over the situation in Syria. This is because it is clear that the international community requires a ceasefire more than the al-Assad regime or the Syrian rebels. There is a very simple reason for this, namely that everybody – both the West and the Arab world – is aware that no practical steps can be expected to be taken in Syria prior to the forthcoming US presidential elections, which are scheduled to take place in around two weeks. Regardless of what the two US presidential candidates said – whether President Barack Obama who is seeking a second term in office or Republican challenger Mitt Romney – during their third presidential debate, it is clear that they are not telling the US electorate the truth about Syria. This truth is that regardless of who is in the White House following the elections, the US president will not stand idly by in the face of what is happening in Syria. What is striking about this issue is that a general view is being formed in America regarding what is happening in Syria. I have been present in America during the past days, and it has become increasingly clear, particularly following the third presidential debate which focused on foreign policy, that the question that is now beginning to be asked in the US media is: what can be done to stop al-Assad’s killing of the Syrian people?

This question is direct, and being asked on most political television programs in America, as well as in most discussions with American media figures, particularly all those who are concerned [with Syrian affairs]. This indicates that there is a general view in America – even at the level of the electorate – being formed regarding the necessity of doing something in Syria, however the elections, of course, prevent this course of action. This is something that everybody is aware of, internationally; therefore it is the international community that wants a ceasefire until America concludes its presidential elections. Russia is also certainly amongst those who want this ceasefire, for Moscow will not sacrifice its national interests for al-Assad, rather it will barter with him with whoever is in the White House following the elections. Therefore it is clear that al-Assad is well aware that there was no value in the Eid al-Adha ceasefire, except as a PR exercise within his own sect and political circle in order to allay their nerves and concerns and tell them that he is not transgressing the limits but rather doing everything in his power to put forward non-violent solutions. However in reality al-Assad is not capable of abiding by any ceasefire or political solution, because this would mean the end of his regime, which is in its final days.

The reason for this is simple, of course, for if al-Assad had abided by the Eid al-Adha ceasefire, this would have resulted in an increase in protests, particularly as demonstrations were not part of the ceasefire. This would therefore lead to an escalation in protests, which is something that the al-Assad regime cannot countenance or bear. This is why he broke the ceasefire and continued to kill the Syrian people. From here, al-Assad is well aware that the ceasefire is not as important to him as it is to the international community, which is paralyzed due to the US elections. Therefore al-Assad utilized the ceasefire card as a present, and when it no longer benefited him, he threw the card out of the window and continued to kill the Syrian people.

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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