Of course it was not maintenance or technical malfunction when telephone networks and the Internet were disrupted, airport traffic was halted and roads leading to it were closed. These are all part of the war in Damascus.
We have entered a very difficult and dangerous phase in a war aimed at toppling Bashar Assad.
An awareness campaign was launched directed at the Syrian people in the event that Assad’s forces used lethal chemical and biological weapons. Here we are talking about the prospects of terrible massacres after the rebels have reached advanced stages in their attack and they are now knocking on the doors of Damascus.
This is not a psychological warfare, nor just concerned thoughts. We know that the system is criminal as well as stupid, but we hope it would not commit the greatest folly in the end.
Lethal weapons are signs of dilapidated forces of the regime and its imminent collapse. It is the last weapon for a regime that wants revenge and to inflict the greatest possible harm to its opponents. Perhaps, Assad thinks that he might stop them and force the world to intervene and hold a political deal that rescues him. He will make the same allegations and tell lies about the massacres committed by his forces during the past months, blaming the opposition and holding it responsible.
Just as in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein killed thousands of civilians in Iraqi-Kurdish lands, and we saw the ugly images of dead parents with their children on the doorsteps of their homes and on the streets. Horrific moments where Saddam’s forces fortified with masks sprayed innocent families with pesticide chemicals and killed them like flies.
In Syria, the regime did not deny that it possesses a huge stockpile of chemical and biological weapons but indeed admitted it when it was threatened with international intervention if Assad attempted to use them or deliver them to other parties, such as Hezbollah.
The Syrian deputy minister of Foreign Affairs announced that his government pledges it will not use chemical and biological weapons or transfer them to other parties.
There were many subsequent activities including monitoring convoys, the distribution of masks in a number of Syrian troop centers and news about a limited use of gas.
Because of our understanding of the seriousness of a horrifying chemical and biological massacre facing thousands of innocent people, it is important to hold the international community responsible for a rapid intervention and a deterrence system.
This should happen before Assad does it and the issue becomes just another case being investigated by U.N. inspectors and another chapter of ugly history.
This is an international responsibility that cannot be evaded, especially after what the Syrian people have suffered from the regime in terms of killing and suffering and did not receive the minimum of attention at the United Nations, while Assad depends on the Russian and Chinese’s protection of him, as well as Arab and Western spinelessness.
This article appeared on the Saudi-based Arab News on Dec. 2, 2012.