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Saving al-Assad

By Tariq Alhomayed

November 4, 2011

Anyone observing the situation in Syria can only question the objective behind the Arab initiative towards it, and ask: does this initiative aim to save the Bashar al-Assad regime, or to protect Syria, and therefore the Syrian people, from the brutal killing machine that is being employed by the al-Assad regime?

Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassim announced that the al-Assad regime had agreed to the Arab initiative, however Sheikh Hamas’s words themselves are worrying; this is because the Qatari Prime Minister announced that the "Syrian government" had agreed to the Arab initiative to put an end to the violence and hold a national dialogue conference with the entire spectrum of the [Syrian] opposition, but he did not say when precisely this national dialogue conference would be held, particularly as the Arab initiative specified that this should take place in Cairo. So the question is, did the al-Assad regime agree to this or not? And if they did not agree, then this means that they Arab initiative has been amended, and that is another story, and an important one, and therefore much depends on this!

What is also interesting in the statement made by Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim during the press conference to announce Syria’s acceptance of the Arab initiative is that he said that this agreement was "clear" adding that "we are happy to have reached this agreement and we will be even happier when it is implemented immediately." However he then said "when I say immediately, I don’t mean that as an order, but out of brotherhood."

This is not all, for Sheikh Hamad also said that "what is important is that the Syrian side is committed to the implementation of this agreement…we hope that there is a genuine implementation of this to end all violence from any sources to protect Syrian citizens, to release detainees held during the unrest, and to clear cities and neighbourhoods of all military displays." However Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim knows better than anyone that political language like "we will be even happier" and "we hope" and this is not "an order, but out of brotherhood" is meaningless, particularly when we are talking about a regime that has killed nearly 4,000 of its own people, whilst arresting tens of thousands more. This "hopeful" rhetoric does not serve as a guarantee to a regime that Sheikh Hamad himself described – just a few days ago – as being a regime of "deception or twisting and turning." It is enough here to recall that on the same day that Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim announced that the Bashar al-Assad regime had agreed to the Arab initiative, 24 Syrians died at the hands of the al-Assad regime forces!

The other problem with the Arab initiative is that it grants the al-Assad regime a new deadline, but without revealing what the Arab League, for example, will do if the Syrian regime fails to comply with the agreement, which is what is expected! Of course, there are many questions about this initiative that nobody has answered, and perhaps everybody noticed that Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim and Arab League Secretary-General [Nabil Elaraby] avoided answering the question of reporters, which suggests that they themselves are unable to answer these important questions. Whilst the "hopeful" language that Sheikh Hamad used clearly reveals that the Arab League is not confident in the credibility of the Syrian regime, and therefore is not confident that it will implement the Arab initiative. As a result of all this, one of the most important questions that the Arab League must answer now is: is the objective of the Arab initiative to save Bashar al-Assad, or is it to protect the Syrian people from his killing machine?

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