Today in Cairo the Gulf ministerial meeting will take place, followed by an Arab ministerial meeting, to discuss the al-Assad regime’s on-going criminal acts in Syria. These meetings come after the failure to pass a UN resolution against the tyrant of Damascus in the Security Council, whilst the al-Assad forces continue their criminal acts against the unarmed Syrians.
As they make their way to these meetings, the Gulf States and the Arabs must remember that today we are facing an unfamiliar Arab scene, where we have seen unarmed Arab people screaming on television over the past eleven months, without finding any assistance to protect them from the onslaught, or any attempts stop the criminal killing machine. The unarmed people are screaming in view of the al-Assad regime’s tanks, which bombard them before the eyes of the world without mercy or respite. This is not all; reports now indicate the involvement of the Iranian “Quds Force” in supporting the tyrant of Damascus against the defenseless Syrian people, and reports also indicate that Qassem Suleimani himself, commander of the Quds Force, is located in an al-Assad regime operations room in Damascus. This is not to mention Iran supplying weapons and equipment to the tyrant of Damascus in order to ensure the suppression of the Syrian people. And yet the world is still watching, despite the violence and killings.
This is the image that the Gulf States are faced with, and having already undertaken important steps, more is required from them. This is also the image that the Arabs are faced with, especially the feeble and sluggish among them, or those trying to hide behind flimsy and shameful excuses, even though eight thousand Syrians have died so far. It is true that some say that the Syrian crisis is now beyond the [capabilities of the] Arab League, but the League today must take more steps, even if they are indeed late.
The Arab League today must take three major steps; the first to expel the al-Assad regime from its organization. Secondly, it must recognize the Syrian National Council (SNC), and thirdly it must call for the establishment of the “friends of the Syrian people group”, to support the unarmed Syrians and undertake diplomatic efforts for everything relating to the Security Council. This alliance – the alliance of the friends of the Syrian people – must also undertake all it can to save the Syrian people, without reservation. The Arabs must remember that when the Israeli wars broke out in Lebanon and Gaza, which claimed nearly three thousand victims and lasted for around two months or less, the whole world mobilized to stop Israel’s killing and destruction. Even though America threatened to use its veto in the Security Council, it did not take long to stop the Israeli killing machine. Today, the al-Assad killing machine has been in operation for eleven months, and now the tyrant of Damascus is looking to ignite a fire in Lebanon, with the help of Iran, whilst the Syrians are still crying out and appealing to everyone’s conscience.
Therefore, the Arabs today must be governed by their consciences when they meet in Cairo, and take genuine steps against this criminal regime in Damascus. This can only be achieved by expelling the al-Assad regime from the Arab League, recognizing the SNC, and demanding that the international community form a group for the friends of the Syrian people. Anything less than this is a betrayal of the Syrians, who are crying out in a sad and painful scene.
The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat. The article was published in the London-based newspaper on Feb. 12, 2012