Arab League Faces Off Against Syrian Regime: Sectarian Conflict, Regional Competition and Internationalization

Article Summary
While the Assad regime continues to reject reform, the Arab League has waded deeper into the Syrian crisis - and its involvement is taking on worrying sectarian characteristics, writes Talal Salman. In its quest to provoke foreign intervention in Syria, Salman sees a Sunni alliance bent on weakening Iran and its Shiite allies in Syria and Lebanon.

For the second time in six months, Arab officials stand at the Security Council’s doorstep in acknowledgement of their inability to deal with the existential crises that they, as individuals and as a group, have caused and allowed to escalate to the point of threatening the whole of the Arab Nation’s present - and its future, too.

The first time this happened, Arab rulers drove their countries’ league, which they never gave the power to fulfill its supposed or hoped-for mission, to hand over Libya’s fate - as a country, people and source of wealth - to the international body that falls most completely under American (and thus unquestionably Israeli) control. As a result, NATO’s fleets were tasked with the mission, and proceeded to annihilate all that remained of the [Libyan] “state,” while taking care to protect its oil fields, pipelines, and ports of export to the West. [The West] needs this oil as badly as it needs air to breath; it did not matter if the “noble rescue mission” resulted in open civil war between Libyans, who had been forced by the “colonel” [Qaddafi] to remain feuding tribes, clans and sects.

In fact, this league relinquished its role when it became subjugated by the rulers of petro-states, and permitted its moral legitimacy to be exploited to solicit the (American) Security Council’s help in disciplining Libya’s ruler - a ruler who had humiliated [the states of the Arab League] through his use of the same weapons that they used against others, namely oil, Washington’s “friendship” and Europe’s “need” of his services.

Here we find [the states of the Arab League] now in the process of repeating their reprehensible act. [Meanwhile,] the league - keen to affirm its Arab identity by wearing the keffiyeh (headdress) of the same petro-ruler who gave the Americans land to build their largest military base in the Middle East, and permitted Israel to open an embassy under the guise of a “Trade Representation Office” - is again asking the Security Council to discipline the Syrian regime and isolate its leader, [ostensibly] in order to put a stop to the civil war that threatens the country. And the league’s delegation, resplendent in the Qatari’s gilded keffiyeh, lends legitimacy to the Syrian opposition, with its civilian fascia and Islamic military presence on the ground, to enter the Security Council - even if only as an eloquent witness, submitting its testimony from this foreign place of exile.

This, however, does not exclude or alleviate the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the open massacre that has been occurring and in fact dangerously intensifying in Syria over the past few days, to the point of making the Arab observers’ mission impossible. [That is, impossible] on the assumption that said mission only entailed attesting to the identity of the party responsible for bringing the country to the brink of civil war, which in turn would necessitate reaching a political compromise through a national dialogue dependent upon promised reforms - reforms that no sooner surface than they are quashed to oblivion.

Syria is drowning in its people’s blood, which threatens to dissolve its national unity and destroy its great people’s achievements in construction, industry, agriculture and culture, not to mention their glorious role in raising high the banner of Arabism and supporting the Palestinian cause with fighters since the uprising of 1936. Although foreign sources - Arab, Turkish and Western - have encouraged local factions to antagonize the regime, the country’s political leadership has failed to change course and implement the reforms that it has repeatedly promised but lagged in implementing. [The regime] is still making promises, without putting an end to its military actions, which is necessary to prove its commitment to dealing with the bloody crisis that could destroy Syria as a state impervious through the strength of its national unity which remained  invulnerable to all attempts at stirring strife or indebtedness and dependence on foreign countries.

It is certain that the repeated delays in opening the door for dialogue with the national opposition’s different internal factions, as well as some of its [foreign-based] factions which have proven their nationalism through years of arbitrary detention in the regime’s prisons. [These detentions] demonstrate the inability or unwillingness of this regime to implement a political solution that would protect the country’s unity and [the integrity of the] state.

Furthermore, this intransigence in accepting dialogue as a realistic approach to comprehensive political reform, and the impossibility of reaching a solution through military means - as the regime has attempted in order to decide the outcome of the grave national crisis that the country faces - will further enhance the ability of outside factions to intervene. This time, [these foreign powers will intervene] under the pretext of protecting neighboring countries from the danger of this civil war - which is intended to appear sectarian - may spread beyond Syria’s borders.

To this end, Iran’s part in the Syrian crisis is being systematically alluded to, alongside the alleged role of Hezbollah, with the aim of exacerbating sectarian tensions and [feeding] the need of Islamists to draw a connection between the Syrian and Iraqi regimes along sectarian lines. To this can easily be added the bloody national crisis unfolding in Bahrain, as well as events in Yemen, to arrive at a grandiose picture of the “great strife” [between Sunnis and Shiites] re-emerging in modern form.

Under such circumstances, it becomes logical to see, in the meeting that brought together leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council with Turkish officials in Ankara, indications that their cooperation goes beyond economic, security and political [concerns]. [This cooperation may go so far] as the formation of a united political front with clear sectarian undertones to confront Iran, its Syrian ally, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah - which must be the object of special punishment for having stood up to and defeated Israel, provoking the ire of Arab leaders who [subsequently] declared open war against it.

It also becomes logical for the Kurdish political leadership in Iraq to transcend its role of carving the country’s north into an adjunct yet separate entity from Baghdad’s central rule, [instead] assembling all the Kurds of the world under their sole leadership. [Iraq’s Kurdish leadership] is sending a direct message to the Kurds of Syria - who form an integral part of  Syrian society - that their political leadership lies beyond their country’s borders and deals with them on the basis of their ethnicity, with some measure of reference to their sectarian affiliation. [This message is also] aimed at Baghdad, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Turkey, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood faction of the Syrian opposition abroad.

Should we be reminded of the Islamist-leaning Sudanese regime’s wretchedness and the treacherous role it played in providing the South’s inhabitants with every possible excuse to secede, [forming] a country that will only serve as an additional base for Israel, the Americans and some Europeans to boot?

What does the Security Council have to offer to the Arabs as a whole - beginning with the Arab League and ending with Syria - other than affronts, and proof that they are not worthy of possessing countries with armies? [Armies] that people no longer see in military parades but frequently observe on the streets and in alleyways, separating different sects; or protecting the rulers of oppressive regimes, as in blessed Yemen, which the Gulf Cooperation Council left to bleed - to the verge of its being torn apart and obliterated.

The Gulf Cooperation Council cannot lead the Arab Nation. It has not claimed to be its leader, and cannot claim to possess the ability to fulfill such a task. It is, however, whether deliberately or inadvertently, playing a destructive role towards the Arab future. This is clear when looking at the Egyptian revolution and the attempt to bolster the Islamists - and especially the fundamentalists (Salafis) among them - within the new Egyptian state, as well as in Tunisia. Meanwhile, it has pushed the Libyans towards the scourge of civil war, and is now seeking to incite Syria’s political opposition into waging a sectarian conflict, taking advantage of the negligence of the regime (with whom it had the best of ties), and its obstinacy in initiating the reforms that Syria needs to prevent it from sliding into a civil war that would encompass all its citizens and strip it of its preeminent role in the region.

Yet moral responsibility still rests on the shoulders of the Arab League and its Secretary General. The Arab citizenry hung on to hope that [the Secretary General] would not repeat the deadly sin committed by his predecessor [Amr Moussa], who attempted to “discipline” the Arab people through international intervention in his quest to attain the mightiest office in Al-Mu’izz’s Cairo [Cairo’s name in Arabic is al-Qahara, or ‘the Victorious,’ named after Al-Mu’izz, the fourth Fatimid Caliph]. [Moussa] assumed he could bring the presidency within his grasp by adopting a doctrinal [i.e. sectarian] stance contrary to that of the fourth Fatimid Caliph [Al-Mu’izz, a Shi’a].

Found in: un security council, un, syrian opposition, syrian crisis, syrian, sunni-shi’a conflict, sectarianism, sectarian politics, regional politics, qatari foreign policy, nabil al-arabi, iranian axis, internationalization of the syrian conflict, foreign intervention, arab nationalism, arab league, arab, amr moussa

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using them you accept our use of cookies. Learn more... X