by Khalid Amayreh
It should be clear by now that the killings in the streets of Syria at the hands of the sectarian Assad regime have eliminated any possibility for any future modus vivendi between the people of Syria and their murderous government. On Assad's orders, his henchmen have drenched Syria with the blood of its men, women and children, leaving no sliver of legitimacy for him and his supporters.
The enormity of the slaughter is clear from the horrible images that keep emerging from Syria; they show that the criminal regime has a no-holds-barred approach to dissent, particularly people demanding freedom from the clutches of the police-state, which could soon assume genocidal proportions. Cities such as Hamma, Dira'a, Dir al Zur, Aleppo and even the capital Damascus could be transformed into latter-day Srebrenicas if the international community fails to stop the carnage.
It seems to be futile to appeal to any basic human values or moral principles to make the regime refrain from the path of death and destruction it has embarked upon and I have no doubt that the Assad regime is capable of committing such atrocities against its own people. Bashar Al-Asad feels, rightly, that his very survival is at stake. He also calculates that the dominance of his Alawite minority will be ended if Syrians are allowed to choose their rulers in free elections. The foremost strategic goal of the regime is, therefore, not to safeguard Syria but to keep the esoteric Alawite sect in power. Since this goal can't be attained without bloody repression of those Syrians who are not Alawites, especially the Sunni majority, it is conceivable that the regime will go to any lengths to save itself from the fate that met Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak and (former Tunisian President) Zeinul Abideen bin Ali.
It is auspicious that some Arab states have finally started pointing accusatory fingers towards the Damascus regime and the withdrawal of ambassadors has begun. However, such reactions are too little too late. It is shameful that non-Arab Turkey has adopted a stronger and more meaningful stance on the Syrian revolution than the stunning indifference engulfing most Arab capitals.
Unfortunately, the Arab League doesn't fare much better than individual states. The League's new Secretary-General, Nabil al-Arabi, has contented himself, apparently, with "expressing concern" over the unrelenting slaughter of the Syrian people by Syrian government forces.
This ineptitude will be construed in Damascus as tacit encouragement for the regime's actions and is totally unacceptable. Many had hoped that the Arab League would start paying attention to Arab public opinion and be courageous enough to confront the nefarious sectarian gang in Damascus which is murdering its own people while claiming to be protecting them. Indeed, instead of repeating meaningless diplomatic jargon, the Arab League should expel the Syrian ambassador and announce that it is siding with the people of Syria who, like the people of Egypt and Tunisia, want to deliver themselves from the shackles of tyranny.
Of course, we can hear charges that "the teapot is calling the kettle black" when it comes to Arab dictatorships urging restraint on other Arab dictatorships, and asking them to sever relations with the Assad regime. Nevertheless, what is happening in Syria goes far beyond a simple power struggle between a despotic regime and its opponents; it's a real bloodbath where the regime is slaughtering people by the thousands. We are talking real crimes against humanity. Hence, it is unethical, hypocritical and cowardly for the Arab League and anyone else to keep silent in the face of these atrocities because of restrictions on interfering in another country's internal affairs or for fear of retaliatory measures by the Damascus junta and its allies.
I have no doubt that the Syrian revolution will succeed and be victorious. Yes, there will be even more sacrifices by the people, but victory will be on their side and the blood of the martyrs will not have flowed in vain. The Syrian people will then remember who stood with them and who kept silent as if the massacres had taken place on a distant planet.
Finally, a word to the leadership in Iran: you are shamelessly for identifying and siding with a criminal regime that is doing to its people what the Shah's regime once did to Iranian demonstrators protesting his tyrannical rule. In doing so you are effectively losing whatever support you might have had amongst millions of Muslims in the Arab world; you are betraying your own revolutionary, let alone Islamic, ideals of siding with the oppressed against the oppressors. Your unacceptable stance may be the result of political miscalculations or sectarian blindness or both, but in both cases you will end up losing much more than you can ever win.
This advice is coming from a person who has always considered himself to be a friend of Iran and its people. Sometimes, it is necessary to be a critical friend; Tehran should be such a friend to Bashar Al-Asad and tell him that enough is enough and it's time to step down.
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|William T. Hathaway|
|Liaquat Ali Khan|