Last Updated: Sat Aug 25, 2012 07:02 am (KSA) 04:02 am (GMT)

What Remains of Syria?

Ghassan Charbel

What remains of Syria when its seat at the Arab League is permanently vacated and when the Arabs get used to its absence? When its membership at the Organization of the Islamic Conference is suspended and when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s participation fails to prevent this decision? When it is cornered by the General Assembly of the United Nations with 133 votes and when it is demanded to launch a political change to end its dilemma?

What remains of Syria when Khaled Meshaal leaves it after having lost hope of his ability to convince its authorities that the solution must be a political rather than a security-related one and that the ongoing events represent a revolution rather than the deeds of armed gangs? And when the objection axis loses the only Sunni side that once represented the axis’ extension into the heart of Gaza and the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

What remains of Syria when a Lebanese security apparatus dares to arrest former minister Michel Samaha, after the latter was caught red-handed transferring bombs? And when the Lebanese media carry information that Samaha obtained the bombs from the most prominent Syrian security official? And when President Michel Suleiman announces that he is expecting a call from his Syrian counterpart? And when General Michel Aoun is forced to keep a remorse-filled silence because Samaha was the coordinator of his relationships with Damascus, Saint Maroun’s roots, and the alliance of the minorities?

What remains of Syria when the army tanks destroy the neighborhoods of Damascus, the once most stable and secure capital in the region? And when the bombs devour the remaining charred walls in Homs? And when the planes move to destroy Aleppo or some village here or there?

What remains of Syria when its people pile up in the refugee camps of Jordan? And when they wait for rations in the Turkish tents? Or when they stay in North Lebanon or the Bekaa or the capital, which is torn apart by sorrow and fear for many reasons?

What remains of Syria when the humanitarian crisis there becomes among the worst in the world? When two and a half million people need imminent humanitarian help? When a million and two hundred thousand people are forced to leave their homes? When the horrific killings have become a daily and regular scene? When finding beheaded corpses is no longer a significant event or news item?

What remains of Syria when the Baathists flee the suburbs in fear of the workers’ and peasants’ attacks knowing that the Baathists once claimed to be the representatives and spokespersons for these groups? When thousands of officers and soldiers defect and acquit themselves from the deeds of their army on televisions? When the thugs commit crimes that are too shameful to even watch?

What remains of Syria when a bomb targets the prominent guardians of the temple in their own stronghold? When a disciplined Baathist agrees to become prime minister and then immediately launches the preparations for his defection? When the world is busy following up on the news of who got killed, who defected, and who is getting ready to jump off the ship?

What remains of Syria when its future is linked to the decisions of Vladimir Putin, the Iranian Guide, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the Iraqi prime minister while Syria used to represent a precious ally, a winning card, and a strategic depth? When the Syrian map is discussed here and there and when there is talk about small maps, sectarian islands, and the impossibility of going back to how things were initially? When the Syrian borders are violated by ambulant fighters whose existence represents a serious problem to the opposition and an upcoming tragedy for the country?

Everyone knows that Syria as we know it is gone. Gone is the Syria of the excessive security and austere stability. Gone is Syria, the player that plays its cards beyond its borders. Gone is the Syria that owns the right to veto when it comes to the Palestinian and Lebanese files. Gone is the Syria that can affect the stability of Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey. This picture is gone. Syria will most probably drown in a merciless war. Its national fabric will be more torn, and when the long killing season ends, Syria will walk out bloody, weak, and lost between the deadly conflict opposing the Syrians and the massive regional and international competing to sketch the future of the Syrian scene. The Syrian player will suffer from its wounds for a long while.

It is as if we are bidding farewell to the Syria that we know. Usually, Syria always leaves its marks on the region’s features, whether it is strong or ill.

This article was first published in Al Hayat on August 23, 2012

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