|Illustration by Syrian artist Wissam Al Jazairy|
“The West, for the first time in history, is colluding with the East to slay a population striving for freedom and dignity,” says Nizar al-Haraki, the “New Syria” ambassador to Qatar.
Haraki, who hails from Deraa, cradle of the Syrian uprising, and who was appointed to his post earlier this year by the Syrian Opposition Coalition, was reacting to the plan agreed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for an international conference on Syria.
The idea is to bring the Damascus government and the Syrian opposition to the negotiating table to agree a transitional government based on the June 2012 Geneva Declaration.
Two leading Arab political analysts today shoot down the plan.
One says it exposes “Obama’s betrayal of the Syrian people”; the other describes it as “a recipe for war.”
London-based Lebanese political analyst Iyad Abu Shakra, who specialized in Middle Eastern Studies at The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), writes for Saudi Arabia’s pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat:
Clearly, the priorities of Syria’s insurgents don’t tally with the main concerns of the U.S. president and British prime minister.
The Syrian worry is a population left with over 100,000 deaths and seven million refugees and internally displaced persons.
Since human rights don’t shape the Big Powers’ Syria politics, the outcome of this week’s U.S.-British summit came as no surprise.
It does not take a genius to make out that U.S. President Barack Obama has caved in and accepted Russia’s interpretation of the Geneva Declaration on Syria.
Washington accepting to see Assad remain in office and complete his term in June 2014 is now a fait accompli. It’s exactly what Moscow and Tehran want.
All talk in previous months by both Obama and David Cameron of aiming to see “Syria without Assad” was a whitewash. And their outcry over Jihadists, Takfiris and fundamentalists joining the Syria war was timed, feigned and orchestrated to cover up their shortsighted Syria policy that looks past the rights and interests of the Syrian people.
Most of these Jihadists, Takfiris and fundamentalists were first churned out by Assad to fight at his behest in Lebanon and Iraq.
As for Syria’s next-door neighbors, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked tough against Assad for months. This week, he said Turkey would remain levelheaded in the face of provocations aimed at dragging it into what he called the “Syrian quagmire.”
In Lebanon a few months ago, Hezbollah was drawing a veil over its fighting against the Syrian people alongside regime forces. Its non-Lebanese patrons have since directed Hezbollah to overtly join the fray hook line and sinker.
Jordan, the first country to evoke in years past the looming specter of the “Shiite crescent,” is now struggling to cope with economic, political and security strains caused by a flood of Syrian refugees “exported” by Assad.
The bleak picture of happenings in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan – not to mention Iraq – does not escape Washington for sure.
But the Obama Administration’s political decision has been taken. The decision is to give regime forces leeway on the field to improve Assad’s bargaining position and to entrust Moscow and Tehran with management of the region’s affairs.
The U.S. administration’s unqualified embrace of Moscow’s interpretation of the Geneva declaration more than two years into the crisis is a bitter betrayal of the Syrian people.
In many ways, it mirrors President Obama’s betrayal of the Palestinian people after the sugarcoated promises he made them during his first Middle East visit.
Abdurrahman al-Rashed, Saudi Arabia’s media bigwig who heads Alarabiya TV news channel, also writes in part for Asharq Alawsat:
Washington’s approval of the Russian plan is a big blunder. It gives hope to a regime under siege.
Instead of coming under amplified pressure, the regime is given a breather.
What’s the worth of a conference that can’t force Assad to step down forthwith or stop the revolution against him? This being unmistakably the case, the conference will simply swell the two rival sides’ wrath and wear off popular support for moderate forces. The winds and public mood will shift in the extremist fighters’ favor.
Has anyone asked: What would happen when the Russian side imposes the idea of a partial regime exit, with Assad remaining at the helm until he completes his term?
How could millions of Syrians be coaxed to return to their homes and resume their normal lives in a country run by oppressive security agencies?
Who would trust Assad to keep his word and stand down in June 2014?
Who says that once he leaves – if ever – he would take with him his inner circle, which is responsible for the biggest massacres in the region’s history?
The Americans have two options – either to stand by the overwhelming majority of Syrians who detest Assad and refuse to live under his and his regime’s rule, or to go away and leave the Syrians to themselves. Forcing the conference on them, they believe, is meant to prop up Assad instead of showing him the door.