To save Assad's regime in Syria from being ousted, it needs time and protection from international intervention. For these two reasons we are witnessing a game played by different countries of the Arab League. Sending Arab observers and initiating the mediation by Hamas' Khaled Meshaal and Iran are nothing but a game to buy more time for Assad's regime to kill more activists. The Arab League has already extended the time remaining for the Syrian regime by three months since it started calling for fact-finding mission, thus enabling the regime to control some of the protest hubs. If the Arab League, Meshaal, Iran and Russia succeeded in protecting Assad and spared him the international interference for another nine months, he might end most protests nationwide. Nothing would prevent him from jailing half a million activists and protesters and sending more troops and security thugs to occupy more cities.
Contrary to the circulated claims, international intervention doesn't violate morals, national sovereignty, Arab identity or Islam. We have no other means to halt the regime's atrocities and stop the countries that supply Assad with money and arms. We have important examples in which the international interference was decisive in protecting the citizens from tyrannical regimes. The list includes the interference of NATO in Bosnia Herzegovina to protect the Kosovo Muslims as well as the international interference to rescue the Kuwaiti people from Saddam's occupation. Twenty years ago, there was a similar debate among the Arabs over the legality of international interference to rescue the Syrian people from the massacre.
Twenty two years ago, Saddam invaded Kuwait on the dawn of August 2nd. Then Arabs were divided into two camps; one supported Saddam's occupation of Kuwait, while the other wanted him out. The first camp knew that it was almost impossible to defeat Saddam's troops by Gulf armies and thus they feared international intervention. The second relized the same fact and hoped for U.N. intervention or they will end up like Iran which fought Iraq for eight years and couldn't win.
For those who feared international intervention labeled anyone who dared to support the intervention option as a traitor. Thus, they called for the so-called Arab alternative solution, which included the sending of Arab troops. The real goal was to leave the issue floating and Iraqi troops in Kuwait.
The recent thought of sending Arab observers to Syria came up for two main goals; avoiding an international intervention and giving the Syrian regime more time to intensify the crackdown against the protests through killing activists and detaining protesters. The world never called for sending observers when the Serbs were massacring Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia. The world chose the shortcut represented in the-then Belgrade regime; either to halt the massacres or face the international action. Despite the objection of the Russians and some Europeans, U.S. and NATO succeeded in putting an end to the tragedy against unarmed civilians--the same which the Syrians are currently facing.
In 1988, the problem started when the people of Kosovo announced secession from Belgrade. They formed the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought the Serbs. In the case of Syria, we see people are exposed to cleansing although they neither called for secession nor resort to military resistance. They are mostly peaceful protesters against the regime. Nevertheless, people are being killed in public while the whole world is watching.
History repeats itself. Today, the Arabs who want to save al-Assad's regime from falling use two concepts; prevent any international intervention and grant Assad more time to kill or detain most activists. Guess who is doing it? The Arab League Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi who has dedicated his job to prevent any possible rescue for the Syrian people from the massacre as well as offering the regime more time.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 11, 2012 and was translated by Abeer Tayel