Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The worst is yet to come in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Abdullah Gul recently said that what is happening in Syria is the “worst case scenario”, and explained that it is having an effect on Turkey, which in turn is undertaking “appropriate” measures. He added that “the Syrian people are suffering” and warned against the [international community’s] current approach, especially as he believes that “there will be a change, a transition sooner or later”. So is the worst case scenario actually taking place?

Certainly the course of events in Syria – since the outbreak of the revolution – has been steadily getting worse, but matters are yet to hit rock bottom. Events in Syria could still get even worse, and the country as a whole could be exposed to further destruction, which is what the Turkish President warned of in his speech yesterday. The reason for this is clear and simple, namely the international community’s reckless handling of the Syrian revolution. Here it is not enough just to blame the Russians and the Chinese, who have vetoed the issuance of any meaningful resolutions from the UN Security Council. Regardless of this, the international community was, and still is, able to do a lot to save Syria and the Syrian people. It has been clear, since the first day of the Syrian revolution, that the al-Assad regime is lying and committing murder, but there has also been a clear sense of leniency towards al-Assad’s crimes and the world has continued to remain silent. What is required here is action, not vague statements.

In Syria, the international community is not dealing with an internal dispute between two sides, the story is much clearer than that. There is a regime that kills and there are people rising up against it. The regime is assisted by the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah, to murder its unarmed civilians who are still begging for help from the international community, which has so far done little. It is as if history is repeating itself, specifically with regards to the case of Yugoslavia that was ignored by the international community under many excuses until it was belatedly forced to intervene, outside of the umbrella of the UN Security Council. It seems that events in Syria today are following a similar path.

Of course, Turkey cannot be blamed for all this, it is everyone’s responsibility, but is now the time for blame or the time for action? I think it is the time for action, not words. Turkey, for example, is in a genuine state of war with al-Assad, just as the Syrians are also in a state of war with al-Assad, Iran and Hezbollah, whilst the world as a whole is in a state of paralysis because of the US elections. The Turkish President says that his country does not want any more Syrian bloodshed, or for Syria to transform into a “bigger wreck”. There is nothing wrong with these words, but the facts on the ground tell us that Syrian blood continues to be shed every day without mercy, not by al-Assad alone but also by Hezbollah, which shamelessly describes its casualties in Syria as “martyrs”. Syria as a whole – its people, buildings and social fabric – is being destroyed, so what are we waiting for?

Here some may say: In this case, how could matters get any worse? The answer is simple. The more that decisive action on Syria is delayed, the more the fire will spread to neighboring states, specifically Lebanon. Further delays will only serve to allow extremism and sectarianism to take root in the region, and this will lead to an even greater fire. Thus, what is required is to arm the opposition, without waiting for the results of the US elections. What is happening in Syria is a war, and al-Assad’s allies continue to support and arm him, whilst the unarmed Syrians have no form of assistance. This is a fatal mistake that could lead Syria, and the region as a whole, to the real worst case scenario.