Those who have no mercy see no mercy. The situation in Syria is horrific. Hurricanes, snow, and rain did not take us by surprise in the past few days, for this is their season. When winter started, we were concerned about Syrians, whether they are trapped in their houses or forced to flee their cities or the entire country. There was not one out of the 25 million citizens who was not affected by the crimes of the regime that hamper the provision of food, fuel and medicine.
Some five million are suffering more than the rest of cold and hunger. Some of them sleep in the open air while others live in caves because relief blankets have not reached them. Many of them have neither bread nor heat. That is why we call upon Arab governments and regional and international organizations not to leave the Syrian people to perish between massacres and starvation. The least they can do is to provide them with the means that can help them survive like shelter, blankets, food, and clothes.
Our expectations have gone down to the minimum. Now, we are asking for bread and firewood. At the beginning, we called for foreign intervention to deter Assad’s forces and stop the genocide. Then our demands shrunk to Stinger missiles to stop the planes that have been for the past 16 months bombing towns and burying people alive.
However, Assad and his Iranian friends, together with their temporary ally the harsh winter, do not believe that the Syrian people have been tortured enough to wave the white flag and accept going back to the iron grip of the regime. Most Syrians, including the millions facing death homeless and starved or trapped in their homes and starved, are not going to exchange blankets and bread for a return to Assad’s regime. This is an indisputable fact. Going back is no longer an option. They have paid a dear price; they lost their homes and children and have been waiting for long. They will never go back to what they had been under Assad’s rule and those who think they can take advantage of the tragedy of the Syrian people to have their political agendas passed are delusional.
Little will change through meetings in Geneva and visits to Moscow by mediators and ministers. Syrians have decided to fight until they topple the regime by their very hands and with whatever few weapons available to them. It is futile to keep looking for a peaceful solution that keeps Assad in power, whether actually or symbolically. It is too late for ideas about the partial transfer of power and an honorable exist for Assad and his government. This is how those banished in tents in Jordan and Turkey feel and the same applies to those holding on in their besieged neighborhoods in Darayya, Hama, Homs, Daraa, and other destroyed parts across Syria. That is why members of the Syrian coalition and the opposition say they will never accept that and none of them would dare agree to a political solution that does not explicitly involve the ouster of Assad.
And because they are fighting on several fronts—Assad, winter, and lack of international support—the best they can get now is the aid that would enable them to get over this harsh season. Then they will be in charge of toppling the already-collapsing regime.
*This article first appeared in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 13, 2013. Link:
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.