Last Updated: Mon Oct 31, 2011 06:54 am (KSA) 03:54 am (GMT)

Syria and Qaddafi’s Libya are the same

Tariq Alhomayed

Since the statement issued in Damascus by the head of the Arab League’s delegation about the “friendly” nature of their meeting with Bashar al-Assad, more than 70 Syrian citizens have been killed at the hands of the regime’s forces, with fifty people alone being killed last Friday!

The Arab League delegation that travelled to Damascus to discuss the Arab League initiative towards Syria were not deceived by the tricks employed by the al-Assad regime, namely accepting this initiative and then voiding it of its content. Indeed the Arab League issued a statement on Friday evening denouncing the continued killing of the Syrian people by the regime, which for its part seems to have lost its senses and responded to the Arab League, issuing a statement of its own yesterday expressing its astonishment at the Arab League statement! This war of words means that the Arab League initiative has failed, and that the al-Assad regime has failed to take advantage of this opportunity to teach the Arab League a lesson, as I mentioned in one of my previous articles [Syria: Time to freeze their membership]. Therefore today, it is up to the Arab League to teach the Damascus regime a well-deserved lesson, not because we are playing a game of one-upmanship or political muscle-flexing, but rather in order to spare the Syrian people from a regime that wants to remain in power even if this means shedding the blood of its own people.

It is up to the Arab League today to return to using the only language that the al-Assad regime understands, and take the only option that is left open to it with regards to the Syrian regime. Indeed this is nothing new, for the Arab League has taken this option before against the Gaddafi regime of Libya. I am, of course, talking about freezing the membership of the al-Assad regime and recognizing the Syrian National Council [SNC], as well as calling on the UN Security Council to take the necessary steps to protect the Syrian civilians. The Arab League should do this today, not in retaliation against the al-Assad regime, but for a number of important reasons. Firstly, in order to protect the Syrian civilians from the regime’s killing machine. Secondly, in order to ensure that the Arab League does not practice double standards, as Qaddafi claimed months ago, particularly as it appears today as if the Arab League is trying to buy time for the al-Assad regime. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Arab League does not become a partner with Hezbollah and Tehran in defending al-Assad – particularly after Iranian Foreign Minister [Ali Akbar Salehi] explicitly informed Asharq al-Awsat just a few days ago that Tehran supports granting al-Assad another chance – the Arab League has no choice but to take this step. The other issue here is that the required action by the Arab League, namely freezing the membership of the al-Assad regime and recognizing the SNC, is in itself a step that will guarantee that another Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qaddafi or Bashar al-Assad will not emerge in the ranks of Arab leaders. This is the role of the Arab League, and it is important that it fulfils this role today, more than at any time before.

The comprehensive failure of the Arab League initiative means that the Arab League, and particularly some of the Arab League member states, have granted the al-Assad regime chance after chance, however what about the lives of all those that have been killed [during this time]? Therefore, it is up to the Arab League today to take every opportunity available to it to protect the Syrian civilians. Everybody today is convinced that there is no hope for the al-Assad regime, and that there is no hope for any reforms that it carries out, for this regime only speaks the language of brutality and suppression.

The Syrian regime tried to trick the Arab League, however it has fallen into its own trap, and therefore the ball – which is on fire – is now in the court of the Arab League, who must today realize that there is no difference between the al-Assad regime and the ousted Qaddafi regime.

The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat. The article was published in the London-based newspaper on Oct. 30, 2011.

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