Thursday 23 August 2012

Wither Syria

Syria's death toll stands at 26,728 (

Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, penned this op-ed in Arabic
What remains of Syria
  • when her seat at the Arab League stays vacant and Arabs get used to her absence?
  • when her membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is suspended (at the Mecca summit) in the presence of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad?
  • when 133 member states of the UN General Assembly vote in favor of a resolution urging her government to begin a political transition to end her ordeal?
What remains of Syria
  • when a despairing Khaled Meshaal walks out on her after failing to convince her political leadership that politics, not violence, is the way forward to a solution and that a revolution is taking place and not excesses by armed gangs?
  • when the “Axis of Resistance” loses its sole Sunnite limb that gave it access to Gaza and the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
What remains of Syria
  • when a Lebanese security branch dares arresting former government minister Michel Samaha after catching him red-handed smuggling explosives?
  • when Lebanese mass media say Samaha was given the haul of explosives by the topmost Syrian security officer?
  • when Michel Aoun falls remorsefully silent because Samaha was his road guide to Damascus, the roots of St. Maroun and the coalition of minorities?
What remains of Syria
  • when her army tanks blitz neighborhoods of Damascus, which was renowned as the region’s most secure and stable capital city?
  • when her warplanes pound Aleppo or obliterate a village here and another there?
What remains of Syria
  • when her citizens cram refugee camps in Jordan, queue for food rations in refugee camps in Turkey, or huddle in fear or grief in Lebanon’s north, Bekaa Valley and capital?
What remains of Syria
  • when her humanitarian crisis is one of the worst worldwide?
  • when 2.5 million of her citizens need urgent humanitarian assistance?
  • when another 1.5 million Syrians have been forcibly displaced from their homes?
  • when horrific killings become a daily sight and when decapitated bodies don’t make news headlines anymore?
What remains of Syria
  • when Baathists flee rural areas for fear of workers and peasants they previously claimed to represent ?
  • when thousands of officers and soldiers announce their defections from their army on TV screens?
  • when eyes refuse to even catch sight of shabbeeha wrongdoings?
What remains of Syria
  • when an explosion decapitates her security chiefs at their nerve center?
  • when a committed Baathist (Riad Hijab) accepts his designation as prime minister only to start planning his defection?
  • when the world is busy finding out who got killed, who defected and who is preparing to jump ship?
What remains of Syria
  • when her future becomes subject to a decision by Vladimir Putin, Iran’s supreme leader and (Hezbollah chief) Hassan Nasrallah with the acquiescence of the Iraqi prime minister after being their trump card and representing their strategic depth?
  • when all you hear after opening a map of the country is talk of mini-states and sectarian islets?
  • when roving fighters breach her borders, causing a problem for her insurgents and a future tragedy for the country?
It is an open secret the Syria we know is no more. The Syria of extortionate security and absolute solidity, Syria the juggler of cards outside her borders, Syria who had veto power on Palestinian and Lebanese matters and could manipulate Iraq, Jordan and Turkey’s stability has vanished.
Syria will most probably sink into a merciless civil war and her social fabric will be ripped apart. She will emerge from the long, nightmarish cycle of violence bloodied, frail and jerked around in a deadly struggle between Syrians and regional and international players vying to shape her future.
We’re sort of bidding farewell to the Syria we know. And whether healthful or ailing, Syria is in the habit of leaving her mark on the region.