Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria: We said “expel” the ambassador, not throw eggs at him! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Last Wednesday, I wrote an editorial entitled “Syria: Too weak to expel the envoys”, commenting on the criticisms being made by the American and British ambassadors to Syria against the al-Assad regime, in what represents a clear break of diplomatic protocol. However despite all this, the Damascus regime has not moved to expel these foreign ambassadors, nor has it even threatened to do so. The day after this editorial was published, a group affiliated to the al-Assad regime pelted US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, with tomatoes and eggs as he met an opposition figure in Damascus. This resulted in a diplomatic altercation breaking out in the media between the Syrian Foreign Ministry, the US State Department, and even the White House. This dispute reached the point that the Syrian Foreign Ministry – whose head, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, had previously restricted the movement of foreign ambassadors in Syria, and also stated that Damascus will forget that Europe exists on the map – issued a statement claiming that the US is encouraging “armed groups” to attack the “Syrian army”. However, despite these traded accusations, the al-Assad regime still did not ask the US ambassador to immediately leave Syria , and this, of course, represents new confirmation that the Syrian regime is too weak to expel even one foreign ambassador, even if he is accused of inciting a revolution!

Therefore, rather than the Damascus regime expelling US ambassador Robert Ford, they instead mobilized more than 200 affiliates, probably members of the pro-regime Shabiha militia, to attack him. This was in order to send a message to Washington that there are some Syrians who still support Bashar al-Assad, and they reject the actions being undertaken by the US ambassador. This, of course, represents a clear soap opera performance on the part of the al-Assad regime. Such action is not unexpected from the Damascus regime, and will not fool those who know the character of this regime, whether we are talking about those in Lebanon or Iraq, particularly as one Syrian official – during a stormy meeting at the United Nations – said that so long as no protests against the regime break out in Damascus and Aleppo, then the al-Assad regime will remain steadfast and fight until the end. This is the message that the al-Assad regime wants to send to the West, namely that it has supporters in Damascus and Aleppo. This is despite the fact that the Syrian capital is currently divided into different security sectors, and anybody and everybody who dares to take to the street against the regime there is being suppressed, whilst all signs indicate that the situation in Aleppo is reaching boiling point.

However, because one thing reminds us of another, if the al-Assad regime claims that the US is inciting the Syrian rebels via its ambassador to Damascus, why is his punishment nothing more than being pelted with tomatoes and eggs? In this case, shouldn’t the al-Assad regime – and its security forces and Shabiha militia –respond to the Syrian revolutionaries, in Homs, Deraa, Hama, Rastan, and elsewhere, with the same softness and gentleness, i.e. pelt them with tomatoes and eggs, rather than attacking and killing them with every type of weapon and arms, and mutilating their bodies, regardless of whether they are women or children?

There can be no doubt that a regime like the al-Assad regime, which continues to kill its own citizens, but responds to a foreign ambassador it claims is inciting revolution by merely pelting him with tomatoes and eggs, is nothing more than a regime that is too weak to expel even one ambassador!