Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria: Too weak to expel the envoys | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Traditionally, ambassadors are overly cautious to express any opinion about the countries in which they are stationed; they are careful to ensure that their statements are diplomatic. Often, the media discovers that many ambassadors speak without saying anything of note, but the matter is quite different in the case of Syria today.

Today we see ambassadors from America, France and Britain stationed in Syria, each of them publicly stating their opinion with regards to the al-Assad regime, declaring their support for the Syrian demonstrators, campaigning for their cause, and refuting all that is said against them by the al-Assad media. U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford challenged the al-Assad regime’s accounts of armed gangs in Hama and elsewhere when he visited these areas, accompanied by his French counterpart Eric Chevallier. The British Ambassador to Syria, Simon Collis, has recently announced the launch of his blog online from Damascus, in order to comment on the situation in Syria, and to declare his support for the Syrian revolutionaries through it.

Along the lines of what the U.S. Ambassador did, through statements and press interviews, the British Ambassador sought to refute the lies of the al-Assad regime, and its media, when he wrote that “the Syrian regime doesn’t want you to know that its security forces and the gangs that support them are killing, arresting and abusing mostly peaceful protesters”. Undoubtedly this is strong language against the al-Assad regime, especially when coming from a foreign ambassador, and this means that the al-Assad regime is so weak that it can’t even hold its foreign ambassadors to account.

Despite Walid Muallem’s assertion that Syria “will forget that Europe exists on the map”, and his claim that the al-Assad regime was a victim of a foreign conspiracy, the question is: Is the al-Assad regime able to expel any foreign ambassador from its territory, especially as they are already travelling around Syria despite all the regime’s instructions not to? Can the regime expel the ambassadors who are answering back, and refuting the lies of its media, which is desperately trying to tarnish the image of the Syrian rebels, and their perseverance for a peaceful revolution? I doubt it; the regime is too weak to expel ambassadors. In fact, the regime needs them, if only to convey the symbolic message that the world still recognizes the al-Assad government.

It is interesting here to consider what the British Ambassador wrote in his blog, where he said: “Over the last six months it’s got worse. A lot worse. The regime wants to create its own truth. We should not let it.” It is as if the British Ambassador is calling upon the international community, and first and foremost the Arabs, to do something. The al-Assad regime should not be allowed to suppress the Syrians without being challenged firstly by the Arabs, through the Arab League, and afterwards by the international community through the UN Security Council. The regime is committing atrocities against its own people that exceed even the acts of an occupying force.

If the Arab ambassadors currently present in Syria are unable to do what their U.S., British and French counterparts have done, if they cannot say the truth and cannot try to protect the Syrians, then the next best thing would be to withdraw them from Syria, so that they are not false witnesses, which is the least they can do.