Last Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2012 07:30 am (KSA) 04:30 am (GMT)

I feel that the Syrians have been left to their fate

Jihad el-Khazen

Several massacres took place in the course of two months, massacres like Hula and Qubeir, and most recently, Tremsa, where the information gathered by international U.N. monitors contradicts the figures released by the opposition, with the goal of the massacre being spreading fear among the people once again. Or perhaps the violent clashes in Damascus yesterday were intended to serve the same purpose.

If there were a hundred policies available to the Syrian regime, spreading fear would be the worst one, especially when many options were possible for the regime in the beginning. Today, there is nothing left for it, and the regime is dealing with the crisis on the basis of ‘killed or be killed’ – something which I believe is the only possible way the armed confrontation can end, as the opposition too will never have a deal with the regime.

At the start of the crisis in March last year, it was possible for me to propose many solutions to the crisis. But the escalating pace of killings reduced the number of possible solutions, until these completely vanished, in my opinion.

Now, I expect a day when one side will ultimately win and another will lose.
The villages which saw massacres, starting with Hula last May, all have a Sunni majority surrounded by villages with an Alawite majority.

The regime accused terrorist groups of being responsible for every massacre, while the opposition accused the regime of the same. Most probably, both sides are right. The regime uses tanks, artillery and helicopters, while the opposition now has thousands of armed fighters.

In addition, there are terrorist groups in Syria. The terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, called on the Jihadists to go to Syria after the start of armed clashes, and many similar-minded terrorists have since obliged.

Kofi Annan, the joint envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League, has held the regime responsible, and he has enough information to make me believe him. According to the regime’s estimates, the number of victims in Tremsa was 50, but according to the opposition, they were 200 or more. As usual, the government seems to be dividing the real number of victims over 2 and sometimes 5, while the opposition multiplies it by 2 and sometimes five.

But with the absence of monitors, the truth is lost. This time too, as in the previous massacres, government forces prevented international monitors from entering the scene of the crime, claiming that clashes were still ongoing, and allowed them in only days later. Reports quoting international monitors said that what happened in Tremsa was not a massacre, but rather an unequal battle between government forces and local insurgents.

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan was trying to find a solution in Moscow yesterday, after visiting Tehran, and I read that the UN Security Council may vote tomorrow to approve tough sanctions on the Syrian regime if the killing does not stop. Nevertheless, I feel that the Syrians have been left to their fate. For one thing, the Arab countries that have supported them do not have enough strength to intervene on their own; and for another, the Western countries have decided that there isn’t enough oil in Syria to justify direct intervention, while Russia and China care only about their interests, even if all Syrians were to die.

As if all this is not enough, there are question marks about the relationship between the Syrian National Council (SNC) in Istanbul and the armed groups fighting against the regime. I read many news reports and interviews with the leaders of the armed insurgents, including some who spoke from Antioch (the Usurped Province if anyone still remembers that) and said that their men needed weapons or funds to buy arms and treat the wounded, but that they are receiving nothing from the SNC.

I had in the beginning thought of solutions while condemning the killing, even when only three or four innocent civilians were killed. I continued to condemn the killing until this very day. A full year ago, in an article published in June 2011, I said that Bashar al-Assad, as the president, is responsible for what has been happening, and no one else.

Today, there is nothing left for me to do but to pray that the government’s figures on the number of victims are true, because I do not believe them. In fact, I do not believe any numbers on the victims coming from Syria, but I pray that the government’s numbers are true anyway, because they are much less than the opposition’s. For instance, the regime now estimates the number of those killed at about 5,000 while the opposition speaks of 15,000 or even 20,000 dead or more.

All of this reminds me of the massacre of Hama in 1982. The initial official figure was 5000 dead compared to 10,000 to 20,000 according to the opposition. Last week, I read in the London-based The Times that the number of the victims of the Hama massacre was 40,000.

In war, truth is the first casualty. Now, I ask nothing in Syria more than an end to the killing, because the policy of spreading fear has failed before it even began, and achieved nothing except claiming the lives of more innocent victims.

(The writer is a columnist at al-Hayat daily. The article was published in the London-based newspaper on July 17, 2012)

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »