In a very well-attended conference, the officials of 70 countries went to Tunisia to discuss the Syrian crisis and look into peaceful ways of resolving it as well as focus on humanitarian aid.
Amongst the suggestions was one by the Tunisian president who proposed following the Yemeni example. Yet, there is a big difference between the Syrian and Yemeni revolutions and the circumstances under which each of them took place. Suffice it to say that what is happening in Syria is a real war that President Bashar al-Assad is waging against his people, a merciless and bloody one.
Objection to foreign intervention stems from concerns over more losses among Syrian civilians, yet meetings and conferences will never make a regime ─ especially as deceitful and barbaric as Assad’s ─ stop the killing and step down. It would be rather naïve to think that this is possible. That is exactly why Saudi Arabia withdrew from the conference after seeing how ineffective it was and after its Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal insisted that the only solution is Assad’s voluntary or forced departure.
The world is dealing with a regime that even rejects humanitarian aid to its people, which is all what the conference became about eventually, and refuses to admit the facts on the ground. This kind of regime will never leave no matter how many guarantees and immunities are given to its officials.
It is obvious that the Russian-Chinese support is sending wrong messages to the Syrian regime, as the Qatari foreign minister said. This explains the frightful rise in the number of deaths and the scenes of the regime’s brutality.
Iran will also not allow any attempt at changing the status quo even if the regime itself considers backing up or stepping down, an option that is not on its agenda anyway.
Peaceful solutions to the Syrian crisis seem unrealistic with a regime that kills innocents, besieges towns and villages, and hits houses with rockets. This regime will never surrender unless a real confrontation that strikes it in its core takes place.
The protection of civilians is a priority that cannot materialize without a military power that has the ability to face Syrian forces and take the required actions against all those who committed such crimes against the Syrian people and humanity.
The only realistic option at the moment is to have the Free Syrian Army protect unarmed civilians as well as liberated areas seized from the Syrian army. The Free Syrian Army is the only entity currently capable of stopping the killings, which seem to be the only strategy the regime resorts to in order to crush the Syrian people’s demands for their rights and freedom.
If Syria’s friends can do anything, it should be to lend full support to the Free Syrian Army and armed resistance against the regime as well as to create safe air-bridges for humanitarian aid and impose a no-fly zone.
The writer is Head of Media at Al Arabiya. This article was first published in al-Jazira on February 26, 2012 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid