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Arm the Syrian rebels!   

Arab News - 27 February, 2012
Author: Tariq Al-Homayed

For the second time I am writing about the need to arm the Syrian rebels. I wrote about this first on Feb. 16, and I am repeating it now, because the conditions on the ground in Syria are becoming increasingly tragic with the brutality of the tyrant of Damascus's forces. The objective of arming the Syrian rebels does not stem from a desire for further violence, but in order for the Syrians to defend themselves and this is a legitimate right.

What some people do not seem to be paying attention to, whether in our region or internationally, is that the Assad regime is heading toward an inevitable demise, and this is only a matter of time. Yet the cost of the regime falling now will be far less than if it is delayed further, as the longer it takes for decisive action on Syria, the more the Syrians will suffer. There will be more killings, as Syria faces increased chances of entering a state of alarming collapse, bringing the country back decades, even greater than the magnitude of underdevelopment caused by the Assad regime, both father and son. Most importantly of all, of course, is that the Syrians’ human suffering will increase, especially as the death toll has been rising ever since the Russian-Chinese UN veto, to the extent that now nearly a hundred Syrians die every day!

Of course, it must be said that there is no hope of any reform in Syria now. It is inconceivable how the Syrians could take part in the constitutional referendum proposed by Assad in light of all the killings carried out by the regime’s forces. How can we rely on any political solution when Assad has not even put forward one officer to stand trial for the killing of civilians, or even the destruction of mosques?

Therefore, the option of arming the Syrian rebels is the most apt choice today, in accordance with what is happening on the ground in Syria. Arming the rebels will block the road toward prolonging the Syrian’s suffering. It will reduce the chances of the people descending into a state of despair, for which we could not blame the Syrians, even if they were allied with the devil, let alone Al-Qaeda (as some allege). Likewise, arming the rebels now will create more opportunities for the Assad regime to fall and reduce the chances of the “Islamization” of the Syrian revolution, or indeed the inevitable post-Assad era.

The other point we must note is that arming the rebels will mean that it will no longer be necessary to impose buffer zones with foreign intervention. International intervention becomes more and more inevitable the longer the fall of Assad is delayed, and as soon as the Syrian rebels are armed we will find that Syrian cities fall one after the other from the hands of the tyrant. This in turn will create further chances for defections, at military and political levels, a phenomenon that has certainly been delayed by the Russian-Chinese veto, which was a green light for the Assad regime to kill the Syrians. Prince Saud Al-Faisal was right when he said that those who used this veto bear the moral responsibility for the killing of the Syrians. Therefore, arming the rebels means that we are taking a stand with the Syrian people, in contrast to Iran and Russia who are standing by Assad, and arming him against his own people.

Finally, we must remember that what is happening in Syria is a genuine revolution that Assad wants to quell with fire and weapons, and therefore, there is no other way to deter him except using arms. Therefore, arming the rebels will not prolong the suffering and humiliation of the Syrians, but rather the longer the fall of Assad is delayed, the higher the cost will be.

— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at tariq@asharqalawsat.com
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