Thursday 23 February 2012

Nothing bright for Syria yet -- just blues

Homs victims Remi Ochlik and Mary Colvin (photos from

Barack Obama sang Sweet Home Chicago at a White House blues concert on Tuesday night. But Lebanese political analyst Zuhair Qusaybati suggests it’s the U.S. president himself who continues giving the beleaguered Syrians the blues.
Writing today for the pan-Arab Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat, of which he is the Beirut bureau chief, Qusaybati says he can only hear what he calls “The Tune of Deceit in Syria.”
Qusaybati explains:
Obama sings the blues… Why not? The president finds the time for a concert at the White House and is good at entertaining guests. He is also good at biting Iran with his teeth of “sanctions” and Syria with the teeth of “isolation.” He is also playing the strings for the “Arab Spring” at no cost to America.
An American journalist and a French photographer were killed in Syria hours after the blues concert at the White House. The likely misjudgment of Mary Colvin and Remi Ochlik, was that they hastened to Homs to find out the truth about who is killing whom and who is opposing what.
Wasn’t that supposed to be the job of Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who still does not know who the Syrian regime opponents are or what “their nature” is? It seems America’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is better informed about the opposition’s “disorganization.” But he comes to a decision that the opposition allowed al-Qaeda to infiltrate its ranks. Accordingly, responsibility for the massacres in Homs and elsewhere is apportioned equally among “terrorists,” armed insurgents and soldiers under orders to foil the “conspiracy.”
Obama sings the blues while bereaved survivors of Syria’s killing machine can’t even bury their dead. And while Obama sings, Damascus plays the Russian tune and Vladimir Putin pumps his muscles before returning to the presidency in a few days.
After his heavy verbal bombardment of the Syrian regime, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meanwhile keeping his ears open to Obama’s chords and the Kremlin’s melodies. At the same time, he is biding his time to get to know the “Friends of Syria” who will be assembling in Tunis tomorrow. He might also be waiting for the results of next Sunday’s “referendum” on Syria’s new constitution that will purportedly end the Baath’s one-party rule.
Despite their clash at the UN and in the Security Council, Washington and Moscow are ironically one in casting doubt on the identity, goals and intentions of the Syrian opposition.
The White House’s “conscience” supposedly cannot put up with “militarization.” Hence, it continues to hedge its bets on the Syrian regime buckling under the weight of “soft sanctions.” Russia, in turn, gloats over the mantra of seeking to avert the dire fallouts of the “conspiracy.” Even humanitarian corridors are anathema to the Russians. Their sequential priorities: reform steps, cessation of violence and then humanitarian aid to whoever survives.
Syrian citizens are looking for friends. They are searching for graves to bury victims of a killing machine hiding at the rear of a joint American-Russian blitz on the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition and behind requiem music for the repose of national dialogue.
Obama sings the blues, Putin plays the requiem soundtrack and Erdogan is pricking up his ears.