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Growing voices on Syrian crisis

Sharjah forum rightly raises the pitch for suitable communication between the government and governed

Gulf News

The appalling violence in Syria has to end. The war has been going on for two years and more than 70,000 people have been killed. Bashar Al Assad’s willingness to use extreme violence against his own people and his refusal to enter into any talks about how to rebuild his shattered nation have led him to be condemned in the strongest terms.

The UAE and other Arab states have denounced his government and recognised the opposition Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Turkey and other nations in the region have been an important part of this growing alliance to support the aims of the opposition.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke out on Sunday in Sharjah. “We will not remain silent in the face of the cruel dictator, the mute devil, who mercilessly carried out massacres against his own people, but who has remained silent and unresponsive towards those who have occupied his own territories for decades,” he said to applause. Erdogan’s view was supported by both Amr Mousa, former secretary-general of the Arab League, who said “we cannot afford to be silent when the innocent are being massacred. We have to speak, see and touch from the heart,” and Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, who had the bitter experience of failing to get Al Assad to talk to the opposition.

Erdogan and Mousa were speaking on the first day of the Sharjah Government Communication Forum, which attracted more than 2,500 attendees and participants. The Forum has focused on how people in authority need to work hard to maintain good communication with people at large, with a particular focus on the importance of good, two-way communication between government and the governed, at a time of rapid changes throughout the Middle East. The power of communication needs to be harnessed by all concerned so that the many new channels of communication can articulate people’s hopes rather than exaggerate their fears.