The Syrian issue remains the most significant in the Arab world, whilst the Syrian revolution against the tyrannical regime in Damascus is the most important and longest Arab revolution; there can also be no doubt that the suffering of the Syrian people today is the most tragic. This is a story of a people who wanted to be liberated from the shackles of slavery, disgrace, humiliation and tyranny. It is a story about a people who are seeking freedom and dignity, protesting against corruption, suppression, sectarianism and rule being bequeathed, which represent the prime features of the al-Assad regime, whether we are talking about the Hafez al-Assad regime, or that of his son, Bashar al-Assad. The al-Assad regime fears, and has warned against, foreign intervention, which has allowed Syria to become a safe haven for mercenaries from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and finally Russia.
The Syrian scene is moving towards liberation, in every sense of the word, with large parts of the country being outside of government control and in the hands of the Syrian revolutionaries, as well as al-Assad regime military defectors, who have formed the Free Syrian Army [FSA]. An Arab solution was put forward by the Arab League, namely an initiative that included a protocol agreement which would see Arab League observers being sent to Syria to inspect the situation and ensure that no violations or violence was being carried out. This was to serve as a guarantee that the Syrian regime was meeting the terms of the initiative, and would have ensured a respectful exit for the Syrian regime, instead of the much worse – but completely deserved – fate that awaits it today. The courtesy which the Arab League showed the Syrian regime in proposing this initiative was made apparent when Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi was chosen as head of the Arab League observer mission, particularly as rumours are rife about al-Dabi’s past and his alleged ties to thousands of deaths in Darfur. Al-Dabi served as the head of military intelligence for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes committed in the Darfur region. Therefore it was no wonder that al-Dabi, with his background, did not see anything wrong with what was happening in Syria [in his report to the Arab League]!
It was “astonishing” to hear the lies put forward by al-Dabi, a man that is in fact a product of a suppressive regime and who is sincerely sympathetic with such practices. In the address he gave to the large press conference [last week], he placed responsibility for the violence and the bloodshed in Syria on the "armed" protestors, but he had no mention about the tanks, armoured cars, missiles, and soldiers of the Syrian regime who continue to patrol cities and randomly shoot and kill bystanders and protestors. This marked a continuation of the inaccurate testimony given by al-Dabi and which served as a lifebuoy to rescue the Syrian regime whose legitimacy, standing and value have all expired.
None of the stances taken by Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby or head of the Arab observer mission General Mohammed al-Dabi can be considered to be moral or objective, and the same applies to the positions taken by Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Algeria. These are all regimes that back suppression, violence, and disgrace, and no doubt they will soon have a taste of their own medicine. Perhaps, the Saudi and the Gulf States' collective mind-set and Saudi Arabia's decision to withdraw its observers from the Arab League observe mission was taken because it viewed what was happening on the ground as the Syrian regime failing to abide by the terms of this initiative, thereby rendering it meaningless.
Relinquishing power and stepping down is the only solution for Bashar al-Assad and his associates, and their departure from Syria will be the only way out and is the solution to stop the continual bloodshed, and at the very least, this will maintain Syria’s geographic unity. If this does not happen, the Syrian regime would be practically participating in a genuine conspiracy to divide Syria, which is something that would only benefit Israel.
Prominent columnist Hussein Shobokshi frequently writes for Asharq Alawsat, where this article was first published on Jan. 28, 2012