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Syrians under the protection of the ambassadors - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is not easy to believe that the American and French ambassadors to Damascus travelled to Hama to monitor what is happening there with regards to the popular uprising, not to mention the heavy security cordon being imposed around the city by the Syrian army, much less that they did this without the knowledge of the Syrian authorities.

The Syrian regime has been building up the presence of its forces around the city of Hama over the past week, in preparation for the demonstrations that took place yesterday on Friday, and in order to ensure that the events of last week’s “Friday of Departure” were not repeated. The entire world closely monitored this situation, warning that if the Syrian troops entered the city in the manner expected of them, this would undoubtedly result in a humanitarian disaster…therefore the international community, including the western ambassadors to Syria, took action to prevent this from happening.

From here, observers can only express wonder at the Syrian escalation against the American and French ambassadors, particularly the statement issued by the Syrian Interior Ministry which stated that “the US ambassador met with saboteurs in Hama…and he incited these saboteurs to violence, to demonstrate, and to refuse dialogue.” The statement added that “the [Syrian Interior] ministry wondered at the US ambassador’s arrival in Hama contrary to the diplomatic norms and despite the roadblocks set up by the saboteurs to prevent citizens from reaching their jobs.”

If the Syrian Interior Ministry was truly surprised by the US ambassador’s arrival in Hama despite the presence of roadblocks – according to the statement – then those monitoring the situation can only wonder how the American and French ambassadors were able to leave Damascus and reach Hama without the Syrian Interior Ministry being aware of this. Syria is a police state in every sense of the word, so how could the Syrian security apparatus not be aware that the two ambassadors were travelling to Hama? Does this mean that the al-Assad regime’s grip on Syria has finally begun to slacken? This is not all, for when the Syrian regime says that the American ambassador is inciting violence, merely by visiting Hama, then the question that immediately comes to mind is: why did the Syrian regime taken foreign ambassadors – including the US ambassador – on an official visit of the Jisr al-Shughour area a few weeks ago when the American ambassador’s presence represents “incitement”?

However the unfortunate issue, which the Syrian regime – and its supporters – have failed to see, is that the people of Hama today are safe and secure because of the presence of the American and French ambassadors, rather than due to any wisdom on the part of the Syrian regime. This is does not represent a blemish in the record of the two ambassadors, but rather in the record of the Syrian regime that has failed to understand the extent to which it has been implicated in the eyes of the Syrian citizens. The regime fired the Governor of Hama last week because he guaranteed the people of the city their safety, whilst today the regime itself is accusing the people of Hama of treason because two western ambassadors have joined them. The Damascus regime does not want anybody to see that the people of Syria are safer under the protection of foreign ambassadors rather than in the presence of the Syrian security apparatus.

Of course, there are a lot of implication to this, internally and externally. For the message has reached the people of Syria – of all backgrounds – that were it not for the presence of foreign ambassadors in Syria than the security apparatus would have killed the citizens [of Hama], and this simply means that the legitimacy of the Syrian regime is being eroded in a dramtic fashion.

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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