“How unreasonable are these countries,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in reference to Qatar and Saudi. According to him, what is unreasonable is the military, logistic and humanitarian support these countries are providing to the Syrian people confronting Bashar al-Assad’s daily slaughter.
Maliki rolls up his sleeves defying Qatar and Saudi, saying: “The regime did not fall, it will not fall and why would it fall?”
His statements come after reports that Syrian rebels are being provided with arms. The last of these weapons were provided by an arms shipment from Croatia. The truth is Maliki himself is unreasonable! He sits along the borders with Syria and he provided its regime with oil, diesel and arms. He also allows Iranian planes to provide the Syrian regime with anything it wishes for. During these years, Maliki never condemned his support of a regime committing the gravest massacre in the current century. He, himself, is an accomplice in this massacre. Instead, he voices surprise that two countries sought to aid the majority being killed every day.
The formula in Syria is as such. The regime is already fully equipped with arms because it is a military security regime publicly supported by Iran, Russia, Iraq and Hezbollah. It gets almost everything it wants from them: funds, weapons, oil, fighters, intelligence and diplomatic data and media publicity. The targeted Syrian people however receive limited support because of the closed borders, legal problems and political precautions. The opposition recently armed some of its members, some are army defectors but most of them are citizens defending their neighborhoods. And now after all the bloodshed, they want to overthrow the regime.
We must not forget that the Syrian revolution began peacefully and continued as such for the first four months. But the regime brutally confronted it. Envoys of superpower countries witnessed this revolution’s peacefulness themselves when they visited cities protesting against the regime, such as Hama. After the regime troops started to kill these peaceful protesters, it was normal for people to resort to arms to defend themselves.
During the past 20 months, rebellion spread across the country, and the regime confronted it by resorting to warplanes, tanks, cannons and missiles to shell cities and towns. Most of the victims were civilians.
There is no similar situation in modern history where tanks and warplanes are used against cities for almost two years without international organizations doing anything to stop them.
Amid the blood and the destruction, the countries and the people of the region cannot just watch these calamities on the T.V. while having dinner. Few Arab countries criticized the acts of the Syrian regime, and it is normal that they will rush to aiding the Syrian people with money, arms and blankets. It is their duty. And we are very proud that these condemned governments are acting as such because they are supporting the defense of millions of Syrians and deterring the regime troops that commit massacres on almost a daily basis. Had the U.N. intervened and imposed a no-fly zone, this support would not have been required. Had Assad accepted a political solution, these countries would have certainly supported this solution.
It is the duty of Arab governments, rather the entire world’s governments, to stop any massacres committed by any regime troops, like Syria’s. It is irrational to compare someone holding a rifle with an army using MEG warplanes, Sukhoi fighters and tanks to shell towns and cities!
Maliki who once complained that the world did nothing regarding what happened in South Iraq during the days of Saddam Hussein when the latter’s forces attacked the rebels within four days, is today criticizing the support provided for the Syrian people who are being brutally slaughtered for almost two years. That incident in Iraq was a crime. But the Syrian regime’s crimes are graver!
Unfortunately, Maliki could have adopted a fair political stance that proves to the Arabs, the Syrians and firstly to his people that he stands against injustice. Such a stance could have removed suspicions revolving around him and around his positions that are always bad. Today, he stands with a regime fighting around 20 million Syrians – that is most of the Syrian people. I do not know how he believes that the Syrian regime will not fall.
This article first appeared in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 28, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.