He spent days deliberating, and after colossal efforts he explained that “water is water.”
(Ali Bin al-Dharoui)
Shortly after the Friends of Syria Conference in Paris, the international mediator for Syria, Kofi Annan spoke, relatively after a long silence, but what he said was almost unbelievable.
Yesterday, the official media in Damascus saw that the outcome of the Conference held in Paris as an “alteration” of the Geneva Conference decisions. This thuggish and miserable comment came in the wake of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s speech, stating that the Geneva plan mentions nothing about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping down. However, what the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan said to Le Monde newspaper carries the absurdity of how the international community is dealing with the debacle of the Syrian people to a new low. This statement is even worse than the weakness expressed by the attitudes, perceptions and statements of Ban Ki-moon, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations.
If Ban’s perception regarding the international observers’ role in Syria is that it should merely “fill the void with an identical void”, then Annan’s call ─ yet again ─ to engage Iran in the settlement of the Syrian crisis, confirms a few ruthless and ugly doubts.
The first doubt is whether the international community had been really serious enough in dealing with the 17-month-massacre that is still happening before the eyes and ears of the world and the humanitarian, international and political organizations; where more than 20,000 people have been killed, not to mention the missing, injured and displaced within Syria and those scattered all over the world.
The second doubt is whether there is a genuine perception of a logical political “scenario” in Annan’s plan in the first place. Any sane analyst would conclude that his mission was “invented” as a means of running away from taking critical decisions.
The third doubt is the worst. It is relates the ethical stances ─ rather say, the lack of ethical stances ─ in dealing with the Syrian and Middle East files. Yesterday Annan was quoted in Le Monde as talking about the fundamental role of Iran in the region’s crisis, a role whose development and evolution led many to think that it, in fact, has never taken world powers by surprise.
The central role of Iran in the Syrian crisis did not need 17 months of carnage, devastation, human tragedy and political and diplomatic disgrace, because anyone who knows the truth about both regimes in Tehran and Damascus will understand the common denominators between them; and subsequently, will know who is behind the strategic project in the region, and in turn, who is enabling it or hindering any process that may constitute an obstacle to its implementation.
Annan is right regarding an important point. Indeed, Iran is today, as it has been for at least 11 years, the real orchestrator of Damascus’ policy.
Iran is the sponsor and chief operator of the Syrian regime, while this regime constitutes a camouflaged communication channel between Tehran and Tel Aviv. I think that this fact is acknowledged in all major capitals, especially, Washington.
Perhaps, one of the few positive points recorded during the last two weeks is that all parties have now laid out their cards on the table.
Nobody can deceive anyone anymore, and definitely, no one can mislead the Syrian people any longer.
Let’s begin with Moscow and Beijing, both of which have dealt with this issue for the first time with the minimum of ethics instead of hypocrisy when they boycotted the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference. Here I mean that Moscow and Beijing have proven since the first “double veto” that they are “enemies” of Syria and its people; and thus had they decided to take part in the conference it would have seemed like a ridiculous joke.
I move on to some supporters of the Syrian people’s struggle from the Arab camp, who in spite of their good faith and generosity to the Syrians, have refrained from sending firm messages to Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did well when she hinted that some of the Arab countries that did not economically boycott the Russian and Chinese, and thus allowed them to disregard the Arab anger. It is known that one of the Gulf countries had signed an investment agreement of a few billion U.S. dollars with China a few days before the Friends of Syria Conference in Paris.
We should, however, examine the U.S. position itself too. The Secretary of State is obviously right in drawing the attention of the Arabs to boycotting Russia and China economically, and punishing them for their stance on Syrians’ suffering. But does Clinton actually believe that the Arabs are in a strong position that allows them to punish the major countries for disregarding the suffering of their people? Did Clinton or any American politician have any concern about Arab reaction to Washington’s policies, when Washington dozens, even hundreds of times, ignored their suffering ─ especially those of the Palestinians ─ under the unending policy of aggression and expansion of Israeli settlements, which has direct U.S. support? The bitter truth is that Washington’s disdain for Arab rights, and its contiuouo support for Israel, is what has emboldened the rulers of Russia, China and Iran and assured them that any disregard of the Arabs will not lead to punitive reaction.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Moscow and Beijing ─ despite their unethical policies towards the Syrian people ─ as they calculate their political strategies, do not consider themselves to be involved in a war against the Syrian people, but rather a regional war in a delicately strategic region against Washington. Actually, people do not mean much to major powers on the universal “chessboard”. This point, in particular, was supposed to lead Washington to stand firm against what the regime in Damascus is doing to the people, rather than hiding behind the Russians and Chinese, and throwing the responsibility on them.
Finally, we get to Iran’s position. Tehran’s rulers, like those in Moscow, Beijing and Washington, are playing a deadly game in the Middle East at the expense of the Arabs and their interests and entities. But even at this point, nobody can deceive anyone else any longer…
In Lebanon, for example, we find that the cohorts of Tehran are perfectly allied to Tel Aviv tools and Damascus’ “shabbiha” – Lebanon Branch. The political settlement in the Lebanese arena, under the hegemony of fully-armed Hezbollah, is complete, and the coalition is powerful in the face the Lebanese pro-independence camp that seeks to build a proper state, consolidate security and establish pluralistic democratic regime that accommodates everybody. This fact does not hide the latest flagrant Christian sectarian outbidding by the Aounist movement on contract workers in Elecrticite Du Liban (EDL) company.
The political and security situation in Lebanon, which remains an open arena in the Middle East, reveals many things; many things that the engineers of the “coexistence” between the two regions’ apparent enemies ─ Iran and Israel ─ are trying their best to hide.
Until further notice, one cannot explain the series of assassinations, the assassination attempts, and the attempts to sabotage certain communities from within, that have targeted and are still targeting one camp in Lebanon; i.e. the camp that seeks to establishing a proper state in Lebanon, but in the context of regional exchanged messages regarding the price for maintaining the regime in Damascus against the will of its people, or the price required for any suitable alternative.
The writer is a columnist at Asharq al-Awsat where this article was first published on July 9, 2012