Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Syrian killing machine | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A statement issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial meeting has demanded “an immediate halt to the killing machine” in Syria. The question here is: Is the term “killing machine” a new one, or have we already heard it with regards to what is happening in Syria?

Certainly, the expression is not new; we heard it in the historic address of the King of Saudi Arabia towards Syria. At the time, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz demanded the need to stop the “killing machine” in Syria. Of course, by questioning this expression, the key point is not that Gulf States have jointly adopted a unified position towards Syria, or that they borrowed the expression from the Saudi King, but the key point is that the GCC have demanded “an immediate halt to the killing machine” in Syria, over 33 days after the Saudi King’s speech, which means that nothing has changed in Syria, despite the promises made by al-Assad to everyone who visited Damascus. Indeed, the situation is getting worse there.

The pressing and frequent calls for Arab ambassadors to withdraw from Damascus, and freeze Syria’s membership in the Arab League, are not hasty or emotional demands. Rather, they are realistic demands in response to the behavior of the al-Assad regime, which does not fulfill its promises and does not respect its pledges. So why continue to give opportunities to the al-Assad regime, and why are Arab officials wasting time coming and going to Damascus? This only means more dead Syrians, which in turn means the tension heightens, and the situation may explode, God forbid.

The Syrian demonstrators are distinguished by their discipline, their commitment to peace, and by distancing themselves from sectarianism, throughout the six months of the Syrian revolution. But the question here is: Who can guarantee that this will continue to be the case? Of course, no one can say for sure, but the delayed issuance of firm Arab and international stances towards the situation in Syria makes matters more complex, particularly as it is now clear that there is no opportunity for the al-Assad regime to quell the revolution, and the regime cannot accommodate it in any way. The regime is beyond repair, and its hands are stained with the blood of unarmed Syrians. Therefore, our intransigence when it comes to dealing with the Syrian state of affairs, either through genuine stances from the Arab League or international mobilization to pressure the Security Council to adopt critical resolutions, will prolong the Syrian crisis, just as we have prolonged the Syrians’ suffering.

Today the Arabs must take a firm stance towards Syria just as they took a firm stance against Gaddafi in Libya, especially as the Syrians are demanding international protection. The delay is harmful; the reality of the Syrian crisis is being exacerbated and accelerating, and more is needed today than was required yesterday. The time has come, for example, to impose an air embargo over Syria, and provide a demilitarized zone inside Syrian territory, close to the Turkish border, under the cover of NATO and the Arab League.

In summary, I would say that the Syrian “killing machine” has not, and will not stop, despite all opportunities granted to the al-Assad regime. Thus it is time for a new machine, designed to protect the Syrians. This must move quickly with a concerted Arab effort, after what happened in Libya.