We are witnessing the opening lines in the final chapter of the long and bloody conflict in Syria, a painful history of these past seven years that has seen hundreds of thousands killed, many, many more injured or dreadfully maimed, and millions of its people fleeing or in self-imposed exile across the region and far beyond.
And now in Idlib, as the combined forces of the regime of President Bashar Al Assad, his Iranian military proxies and his Russian allies in the air set their sights on taking the city and bringing about the end of this cruel and bloody saga, there is an irony in that this distinctly Syrian conflict will be played out by the powers that be in capitals beyond that broken nation’s borders. Whether it is in the new presidential palace in Ankara, the offices of the Kremlin or the corridors of Tehran, the fate and future of Syria is being decided by others than Syrians themselves. But do these foreign interlopers truly know of a province and city that is so Syrian, so profoundly Arab? And what is their expertise now or their sudden interest for the future in building a Syria anew from the devastation and destruction wrought by its regime? What makes this current intercession and future entanglement by these foreign opportunists so grating and so galling is they know little of the Arab culture, of the Arab people, and of the fundamentally Arab makeup of Syria.
For them, it is but a chance to exert influence over a once-proud Arab nation with a rich history and heritage that has suffered so much. But there is a body that speaks for all Arabs, one that was intended to promote and protect Arab interests, Arab peoples and Arab nations. But sadly, at this critical juncture in Arab history, the Arab League is profoundly silent.
The Arab League was founded in 1945, and Syria then was among its founding members. So too was Yemen and Iraq, with Egypt, Lebanon and what was then Transjordan, now Jordan. Since then, it grew in stature, and despite the challenges it faced, it had been a proud defender of the rights of all Arabs. But that has changed.
The Arab League is meant to speak for all Arabs from the Atlantic to the Arabian Sea, yet it is most silent now. It is blind too and also untouched by the events that have shaken Syria. If ever there was a time for the Arab League to show leadership, it is now. If ever there was a time for action, it is now. And if there is ever a time for Arabs to be united, it is indeed now.