The stance of Arabs on the brutality of the Syrian regime, which has been mercilessly escalating, is at its worst and in its most helpless forms. Hesitance and inaction are the best words that describe the position of Arabs, represented by the Arab League and its secretary general, towards the Syrian crisis no matter how high the number of the dead is becoming and how far the smell of death is reeking.
The Syrian regime that was condemned by the whole world was not met with the necessary deterrent measures on the part of Arabs nor was it duly isolated in the region.
Why don’t all the Arab countries summon back their ambassadors in Damascus like Saudi Arabia did? Why don’t the Arab countries ask Syrian diplomats to leave their territories?
Why don’t they immediately start ostracizing this unwanted regime, stop the observers’ committee farce, freeze Syrian accounts and memberships in Arab and Islamic organizations?
The only remaining solution to alleviate the tragedy awaiting Syria is political and economic isolation of its regime. Political isolation through calling back diplomats and expelling all representatives of the Syrian regime from Arab countries is a step that will be emulated by Western and other foreign countries. No one will remain except the ambassadors of Russia and Iran.
Let us always remember how the withdrawal of ambassadors and diplomatic missions contributed to the fall of Qaddafi’s regime in Libya.
But Bashar al-Assad’s regime is one based on hate and vengeance and what is mostly delaying such steps at isolating it is extreme fear for the safety families and compatriots inside the Syrian territories. It is a regime that is willing to ruthlessly retaliate against an entire village or neighborhood or family no matter how big.
Geographical isolation is very important for the protection of civilians. I pointed out in a previous article the emergence of new reality manifested in the presence of liberated areas in area, a condition that materialized within only two weeks. With the support of the Free Syrian Army, dissidents will increase and the regime’s power will start diminishing and this will speed up its demise.
Yet geographical isolation of the Syrian regime and securing areas that were liberated by the revolutionaries require regional and international intervention and this, unfortunately, is not expected to happen soon. True areas like Daraa in the south, Idlib in the north, and Deir al-Zor are isolated from the regime, but they need international protection and a no-fly zone.
Even Russia that is now supporting the Syrian regime will eventually abandon it after striking the deals it is seeking at the expense of the Syrian people. Then it will not be able to do anything to help Assad’s regime and will only keep issuing its traditional statements.
Let us remember that the most Yeltsin could do after NATO started its strikes against Serbia, which it supported and to which it is racially linked, was to say, “They made a big mistake.” That was it and the NATO strikes went on as planned.
The writer is head of media at Al Arabiya. This article was first published in al-Jazirah on February 5, 2012 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid