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Who will bear al-Assad's burden? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, says that Bashar al-Assad “is finished”, and that Arab States realized that his days are numbered. He believes that most Arab leaders are convinced that “al-Assad’s rule is coming to an end”, and that “some of these Arabs have even begun to offer al-Assad a safe haven to encourage him to leave”, quietly and quickly.

The question is: who among the Arab countries and leaders will bear the consequences of harboring al-Assad, after all he has done in Syria and against the Syrians? Where can he still boast good relations with influential Arab leaders in the region?

You can make an argument regarding Arab states –any Arab state – hosting Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, or even Hosni Mubarak, since their hands are not stained in blood like the al-Assad regime’s hands are. The al-Assad regime has exceeded even what Muammar Gaddafi committed in Libya, where a different sort of battle occurred between two distinct sides: the Colonel’s regime and the rebels. Both sides used weapons against the other: tanks versus tanks, bullets against bullets. Meanwhile, the exact opposite is taking place in Syria, where the al-Assad regime is bearing arms, an abundance of them, whilst the Syrian protestors have so far insisted on a peaceful revolution, despite all that is being said by Russian officials, who have transformed into what can be described as “Shabiha politicians”. Having previously witnessed the Shabiha-nature of the Syrian media, we are now witnessing the Shabiha tendencies of Russian politics, desperate to defend the al-Assad regime which will inevitably come to an end.

So, to say that the al-Assad regime is over, this is true, and to say that most Arab rulers are now convinced of its fate, this may also be true, but preparing to host Bashar al-Assad in an Arab country is very difficult today, especially as the al-Assad regime has killed at least 3,500 Syrians, not to mention those missing. Who will bear the consequences of all this blood? It is difficult to imagine! Therefore, if the Arab countries – as Feltman says – are keen on the safety of Syria and its people, then the best thing these countries can do now – instead of granting asylum to Bashar al-Assad – is to commence with freezing the membership of the al-Assad regime in the Arab League, the credibility of which is at stake according to Feltman. Of course, the Arab League should recognize the Syrian National Council and withdraw all Arab ambassadors from Damascus immediately. Likewise, if Arab leaders have Syria’s interests at heart, then they must take a firm stance towards what Moscow is doing in its regrettable defense of the al-Assad regime.

As for the issue of whether to grant Bashar al-Assad political asylum or not, this should not be preoccupying the Arabs at the moment, even if Jeffrey Feltman suggests that almost all Arab leaders are now convinced that “al-Assad’s rule is coming to an end”, and that “change in Syria is now inevitable”. When the time to flee comes, it is clear that the al-Assad regime’s options will be limited. If this is not resolved then the brutal regime would have no option but to resort to Iran. However, one doubts that any rational minds there would be willing to accept it, for the al-Assad regime is a burden for everyone, including Tehran.

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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