Sharaa Why not

Randa Takieddine

Published: Updated:
The proposal by the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, for Syrian Vice-president Farouq Sharaa to take over power, followed by French President Francois Hollande’s comment of “why not?”, is strange. Bashar Assad is still president and no one in the international community has done anything to remove him from power, except offer words. Ban Ki-moon is calling for a unilateral cease-fire, as if the Syrian rebels have airplanes and heavy weapons to engage in such a thing. Assad and his army continue to kill, to eliminating those they term “terrorists,” who are actually the people of his country.

The image of the Syrian father who was carrying his dead son which appeared in the international press, was horrific and painful, and reflects the international community’s decision to abandon the notion of intervention, despite everything that is being said about halting the bloodshed and removing a murderous regime. It is as if each influential member of the international community is making statements and issuing condemnations, saying that Assad must go and that the killing must be stopped; they are proposing a new president and the establishment of safe, liberated zones, but made safe how? The United States does not want to see a no-fly zone, because Obama does not want to do anything as he faces a re-election battle.

The U.S. does not want to see a transitional government from the Syrian National Council because it has a majority of Islamists; France wants to see a transitional government. Qatar is not enthusiastic, because it is pursuing its own agenda. On the ground, the Syrian opposition is fighting and killing, and is on the receiving end of the Syrian army’s bombs, while the international community is blocked from acting.

Lebanon remained this way for 15 years as the leaders of the world tried to establish a ceasefire, but in the end the Syrian and Israeli regimes maintained the stability of bloodshed, via their allies in Lebanon. Today, as the Syrian regime continues to make its country hell, there comes the "great" Turkish proposal to nominate Sharaa as the head of state. Sharaa, who for decades was foreign minister, during the Hafez Assad and Bashar Assad presidencies; the latter made him a vice-president.

The Turkish foreign minister has proposed that he lead the country to a transitional democratic phase. It is a joke, and perhaps Turkey has begun preparing to prompt him to defect. Sharaa was skilled at diplomacy along Soviet, and even North Korean, lines, and was succeeded by Walid Moallem, another skilled diplomat. Sharaa is now seen by Turkey as the best candidate to handle the transition. This "brave" vice-president, who saw his city fall to shelling and fighting by his president, remained in power despite all of the rumors surrounding him. Among all Syrians, he is now the best person to lead the country to democracy.

The international community is truly lost and the ancient country of Turkey, which has recently achieved so much in social and economic terms, has begun to lose sight of the necessary criteria, due to the difficulty presented by an international situation that is blocked over what to do about the catastrophe taking place in Syria. The Great Powers’ only weapon is to make statements, and repeat them: Bashar Assad must go. The humanitarian disaster that Syria is experiencing is horrific; calling it as unacceptable, as Ban Ki-moon and others have done, is actually false. In fact, and unfortunately for the Syrian people, it is acceptable for everyone, since they are not truly halting it so that this regime can disappear.

(Randa Takieddine is a writer for Dar al-Hayat where this article was published on Oct. 10, 2012)

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