Syria Should Take its Friends’ Advice

8 October 2011

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has given the Syrian leadership two options: implement reforms or step down. This Russian position must be taken seriously because it comes from a friendly country that vetoed the bill submitted by Britain and France to impose sanctions on Syria. And also because the entire world can no longer tolerate the methods of prevarication and manoeuvres that the Syrian leadership is using to avoid introducing the true reforms to which the Syrian people aspire, and for which they are sacrificing their blood every day as martyrs.

The Syrian leadership has lingered too long over the implementation of reforms in the belief that bloody security solutions can eventually smother the Syrian uprising, and that it is only a matter of days or weeks to put the situation under control. This belief however has proved a failure as evidenced by the fact that the protests have been continuing in many parts of the country for the past seven months.

Syria is going through a difficult predicament, for neither the authorities are capable of extinguishing the uprising nor are the oppositionists close to toppling the regime. As things stand, the Syrian people are paying the price in blood, security, economy, and livelihood. The longer this obdurate position continues, particularly by the Syrian leadership, the worse the plight and losses.

The Sino-Russian veto of the bill on recognition of a Palestinians state, used by both these countries at the UN Security Council for the first time in decades, ended the ugly, provocative US domination of the world body and put an end to the US arrogant and provocative wars against Arabs and Muslims. The Sino-Russian veto, however, does not mean that the Syrian regime should complacently believe that all doors to foreign military intervention in Syria have been closed. Military intervention may take place through other circumventive ways, the shortest being arming and supporting militias and paving the way for a bloodier civil war that could exhaust both the Syrian regime and the uprising at the same time.

Amid the current stalemate, Syria needs a third party to break this stalemate and conduct honest mediation effort between the Syrian regime and the opposition to achieve national reconciliation and pave the way for serious transition to comprehensive democratic change. Russia and China can play such a role, now that the Arab league, regrettably, failed to play any constructive role in this respect. Before starting any mediation effort, the Syrian regime's heinous carnage that has to date left nearly 3,000 people dead and tens of thousands wounded must cease. And the uprising should cleanse its ranks of certain military elements that have infiltrated it, as the vast of majority of its spokesmen confirmed.

The situation in Syria must not go back to the era of scorning and humiliating the people and abusing their dignity by suppressive security agencies that excelled in acts of torture, killing, and expropriation of freedoms.

If the Russian-Chinese veto is to contribute, directly or indirectly, to a return to such an era, it will ruin the credibility of those who used the veto as well as their interests in the Arab region, because, amid their democratic uprisings, the Arab peoples will no longer accept or tolerate suppressive dictatorial regimes. These people can no longer be deceived by false slogans or frivolous promises of cosmetic reforms.

We add our voice to that of Russian President Medvedev, and call on Syrian President Bashar al-Asad to step down immediately to spare the blood of the Syrian people, and out of concern for Syria's stability, security, and territorial integrity, if he is unable to introduce the drastic reforms that his people are demanding, and to immediately begin to cleanse prisons, release all detainees, and bring all those who persisted in shedding Syrian people blood to justice, including those close to the regime. After all, Syria's stability and national unity are more important and nobler than those officials.

The Sino-Russian veto may have given the Syrian regime a breathing space, as it may have dashed the hopes of some Syrian oppositionists who had wagered, and may still wager, on foreign intervention similar to what happened in Libya and earlier in Iraq. However, this does not mean that this veto came about because of the Syrian regime's shrewdness or diplomatic victories. It came about as a result of US, French, and British stupidity, disdain for international legitimacy, and unilateralism in making war decisions under false and misleading slogans about democracy and human rights.

The Western world, led by the United States, committed war crimes in Libya, and protected a segment of the Libyan people to kill and displace another. It turned Libya into a failed state, ignited ideological and provincial divisions, and sowed seeds of extremism and hatred among the sons of the one country. The Western world did all of this for oil and for tempting trade contracts, not for democracy and human rights.

We quite understand the anger of certain Syrian opposition leaders at the Sino-Russian veto. Yet an end must be put to the greed of the Western world that seeks to rescue Europe and the United States of their crushing economic crises through wars that pave the way for neocolonialism under false and misleading democratic mask.

The Sino-Russian veto will not rescue the Syrian regime or extricate it from the current crisis; only the Syrian regime and a serious comprehensive and democratic change can save it. The time of life-long presidential terms is over for good, so is the time of hereditary succession, the one-party rule, the holding of presidents as gods, and the turning of the country into a ranch for corrupt members of the retinue surrounding the regime.

President Al-Asad has a last chance to rescue his country, not to say his regime; he should seize this opportunity and rise to the level of historic responsibility. He has no time for manoeuvring and evading this responsibility. The Syrian people alone, and with the help of their friends in Moscow and or Beijing, and all the capitals of the democratic world, should topple the Syrian regime, not NATO's tanks, aircraft, and missiles. We have seen the massacres NATO committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and the catastrophes it created. If the Syrian regime fails this last test, and refuses to listen to the advice of its Russian and Chinese friends, the latter should intervene in the interest of the Syrian people and in support of their legitimate uprising to change the regime.e.