Farcical scenes in Syria |
Saudi Gazette - 06 September, 2012
Author: Hassan Tahsin
Why did Syrians fail to win their revolution until now? Is Syria not like Tunisia? We can say that the answer is no. The Tunisian dictator fled the country shortly after the unrest started, thus cutting short the route.
It will not also be fair to compare Syria with Egypt. Syria has a population of 25 million while Egypt, the most populous Arab country, is home for 85 million. From January 28, 29, and 30 through February 11, 2011, the public squares in Egypt swarmed with people whose number exceeded the Syrian population.
The people’s pressure was inconceivable in Egypt. Apart from this, the most important factor was that the Egyptian army’s position was neutral because of its strong discontent with the defense chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and former President Hosni Mubarak and its rejection of a power-bequeathal plan.
So another question rises: Why did the Syrians not follow in the footsteps of Yemen? Yemen was divided almost in half: One-half supported former President Ali Abdullah Saleh while the other half was with the opposition. The other important thing was that each Yemeni citizen carries a weapon at home, in cities or in any villages, or among their tribesmen.
According to a UN report, the Yemeni people come second after the Americans among the people who carry weapons in all countries around the world. The Yemeni people were much aware of this and avoided a bloody confrontation among themselves and had to rely on mounting public pressure initiated by serious groups that sought to topple Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Libya was also an exception. The Libyans relied mainly on the weapons of the rebel army first and later started advancing with the active support of the Europeans in their struggle to oust the oppressive madman, Muammar Gaddafi.
From this perspective, we can see that the Syrians started the business of toppling Bashar Al-Assad from a much disadvantaged starting point. They lacked weapons, leadership, revolutionary idea, or organized links with the resisting public. It was easy then for the Syrian army, which has more arms and is more systematic, to pounce on its own people on orders of the leadership. Is there a solution to the crisis?
The Syrian issue figured high in the global political arena only after so many people had been killed to martyrdom in the brutal crackdowns by the Syrian army. The mounting casualties made the world pay heed to the slaughter of innocent civilians on a daily basis.
Immediately, the Syrian government invented a comic version of the entire episode. But nobody in the world — not even Russia and China, which are Damascus’ major allies – believed the Syrian regime’s narrative that it was fighting terrorists who were determined to overthrow the Baath regime.
The international position has been split over the Syrian issue, with the West and East holding different views, reminding us of the Cold War days.
Russia and China have rejected any military intervention in Syria, while the US has been trying to persuade Russia and China to join the pressure on Assad’s regime. With Russia and China’s veto power in the UN General Assembly, an impasse occurred. A major farcical act in the Syrian drama then started.
The United Nations dispatched international observers to Syria to look into the situation in war-torn areas, but the delegation failed in its mission as the Syrian regime restricted its members’ visit to areas where they wanted to go.
Enter Kofi Annan, who was named UN and Arab League special envoy to broker a Syrian peace. It is history that despite his best efforts, Annan failed to make a major breakthrough in ending the conflict because of the regime’s intransigence and unabated killing of civilians in rebel strongholds.
After tendering his resignation and admitting failure in his mission, the UN named veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi later as his replacement. But even before he assumed his mission, Brahimi admitted that his job was very complicated and “nearly impossible” to accomplish.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the United Nations, the Arab countries and all countries concerned with the situation in Syria should realize that Assad was not going to step down and allow terrorists to take over the country.
But history tells us that Russian support for its allies has its own limits. It had abandoned former allies when they were no longer needed.
It deceived Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser during the 1967 Arab-Israel war. It deceived Saddam Hussein before the fall of Baghdad. The same thing happened with Yugoslavia and Georgia. And Russia had betrayed Muammar Gaddafi.
So, what is the solution to the Syrian crisis?
In my view, the stalemate could be broken if we can find ways to make the Russian fleet leave the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartous as well the Syrian aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” from the Syrian coast.
At the same time, the US Sixth Fleet and nuclear aircraft carrier “George Bush” must also leave the other side of the coast and return to its bases in Italy and Greece.
Only then could a possible solution to the Syrian crisis start with the help of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt in line with the Egyptian initiative. What makes it impossible to solve the crisis is the greed of the West to get the largest slice of the Syrian cake.
— Hassan Tahsin is an Egyptian writer and political analyst. He ca be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org