by Khalid Amayreh
Hair-raising reports that keep coming out from Syria speak of the Syrian army, whose raison d’etre is to protect the country from external aggression, ganging up on Syrian population centers one after the other, using T-72 tanks, helicopter gunships and other lethal weaponry that would be used in real war between armies.
Hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians have been riddled with bullets, children tortured in barbarian gangland style before they are handed over to their respective families for a hasty burial, and women raped by soldiers in order to deter male relatives from taking part in pro-democracy protests against the tyrannical regime in Damascus.
Interestingly, the bulk of this campaign of murder, terror and rape is carried out be the so-called elite forces led by Maher Al-Assad, the president’s brother, which is made up mainly of recruits from the Alawite and other non-Sunni minorities.
Soldiers refusing or showing the slightest reluctance to shoot to kill are themselves summarily executed by the Shabbiha thugs, or murderous death squads. Hundreds of such soldiers have been murdered and the killing blamed mendaciously on “infiltrators, fifth-columnists, and Jihadi fundamentalists.”
One human rights activist in the occupied Palestinian territories intimated to this writer that in 44 years of ruthless Israeli military occupation he never witnessed even a semblance of the barbarianism and sadism displayed by the Syrian regime against its own people.
“But Israel is our enemy and whatever war crimes or crimes against humanity the Israeli occupation army perpetrates against us happens in the context of this enduring enmity between the occupied and the occupier. The Syrian regime, however, is slaughtering its own people, including children, in order to keep a small junta of Alawite officers at the helm of power in Damascus.”
The Syrian regime seems to have exhausted its inventory of shameless disinformation about the popular revolution engulfing the country, but no one is quite sure. It blamed every conceivable and presumed foe, from Wahabbis to Mossad, for fomenting trouble against the regime.However, more and more ordinary Syrians, many of whom previously gave the regime the benefit of the doubt, have now discovered the bitter truth; namely that the regime is lying and killing the people.
There is no doubt that the sectarian regime in Syria is the main enemy of the Syrian people. This Syrian people is as entitled to liberty and freedom from tyranny and the police state apparatus as any other people under the sun, including Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and Yemenis.So why is the Arab League silent?
In a certain sense, the Arab League, which many well-meaning Arabs say candidly must reform or die, is morally co-responsible for the deaths of every Syrian man, woman and child at the hands of a murderous, merciless and corrupt regime.The League must ask its conscience, if it has one, whether it is right and wise to keep a regime that commits such atrocities within the walls of the “Arab house”.
The Arab League is not a confederation of free states. I also know the League often doesn’t reflect the feelings and views of Arab peoples in its policies and stances. However, the Arab League leadership ought to realise that looking on passively and doing nothing about the genocide the Assad regime is meting out to the Syrian people will make it lose once and for all whatever moral credentials it may hope still to have.
Indeed, if the Arab League can’t even speak up against manifestly criminal member states that do to their own peoples more than what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, then it is obvious that the League loses its raison d'être and should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
In light of this paralysis, one is prompted to ask oneself how in the world the League can be taken seriously by the international community in the event it protests further Israeli provocations against the Palestinians?Even distant and disinterested observers would ask, “Where was the Arab League when the soldiers of the Assad dynasty were murdering children, raping women and bombarding mosques and homes in Deraa, Hama, Hems and Jesr Al-Shaghor?
To be sure, it is not too late for the Arab League to do something honourable, even if it comes belatedly.The League should immediately meet in an extraordinary session in order to eject the Syrian regime from the League’s council. The League should also recommend that every member state expel the Syrian regime’s ambassador in every Arab capital.
Moreover, there should be a total ban on Syrian air flights. In short, the regime of Al-Assad must be made to understand that slaughtering peaceful protesters, raping and killing Arab women in Syria, and torturing children to death, like Hamza Al-Khatib, are not without a price.
Shortly before the beginning of Islam, the tribes of Mecca agreed to form Hilf Al-Fodul or the Alliance of the Virtuous, in which the tribes pledged to collectively assure justice to any wronged visitor to Mecca.
The alliance was established after a Yemeni merchant had sold some goods to a notable member of a local Meccan tribe. Having taken possession of the goods, the local Meccan refused to pay the agreed price. The wrongdoer knew very well that the merchant had no kinsman in Mecca, upon whom he could count for help. But the merchant, instead of letting it pass, appealed to the Quraysh to see that justice was done.
In response, a meeting was hosted at the house of Abdullah Ibn Jadan. At the meeting, various chiefs and members of tribes pledged torespect the principles of justice, and collectively intervene in conflicts to establish justice.
In this light, one cannot but wonder if the Arabs of Jahiliya (the days of ignorance in the pre-Islamic period) were actually more morally consistent than later Arabs of 2011 who watch Arab leaders slaughter their own people and refuse to say or do anything about it?
Shame on us for our shocking silence and inaction in the face of what is happening in Syria.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|