Isn’t it about time that Arab League member states accepted that the Bashar Al Assad government is here to stay and should therefore restore the embattled nation’s seat!
While it is understandable that doing so will be a bitter pill to swallow, maintaining Syria’s isolation serves no one, least of all the embattled Syrian people.
Grave mistakes were made by foreign entities that armed and trained hardline extremists many of whom joined up with terrorist groups. There is no doubt that foreign interference in northern Syria is responsible for prolonging the misery.
Like it or not, the Al Assad government, assisted by Russian air power and Iranian backed ground forces, has wrested back control of more than 70 per cent of this war-torn country.
Last week, tens of thousands of Aleppo residents took to the streets to joyfully celebrate their liberation from armed fanatics but for obvious reasons such scenes which fly against the Western narrative are rarely if ever reach our television screens.
Western powers cry crocodile tears over the plight of civilians in the rebel-held province of Idlib while turning a blind eye to Turkey’s military intervention in the form of ground troops and hardened anti-government militants. As over a million civilians head to the Turkish border to flee the bombs, Ankara that hosts up to 3.6 million Syrian refugees signals there is no room at the inn while threatening all-out war.
It is time to seek positive solutions so that Syria can rise from the ashes. Here is where Arab states could play an important part. The Arab League should be proactive in brokering a deal with the Syrian regime for a corridor while guaranteeing the safety of women, children and the elderly who choose to take it.
Surrender deals signed up to by the government and terrorist groups holding great swaths of territory as well as areas of major cities were responsible for dispatching terrorists along with their families and weapons to Idlib under Turkey’s protection. Now that Turkey’s borders are shut tight they have nowhere to run.
The United Nation estimates suggesting that up to 80 per cent of Idlib’s residents are women and children give rise to concern. Heartbreaking reports emerge daily. Young children are not only succumbing to bombs and artillery shelling but also to freezing temperatures; as many as seven have frozen to death. This humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions presents a conundrum for the international community.
Legally, the Syrian government has every right to extend its authority over its own nation’s sovereign territory and to resist all foreign invaders including Turkish forces, but at what cost to innocent human life. The Syrian people have suffered unimaginable horrors for nine years.
It is time that conflict was replaced with dialogue and cooperation between all parties aimed at preserving civilian lives and the disarming/disbanding of terrorist groups. Enough of the blame game! There is plenty of blame to go around and Turkey that earlier permitted Daesh fighters to be treated in its hospitals and to freely cross the border to stock up with supplies can never erase its destructive role.
Nevertheless it is time to seek positive solutions so that Syria can rise from the ashes. Here is where Arab states could play an important part. The Arab League should be proactive in brokering a deal with the Syrian regime for a corridor while guaranteeing the safety of women, children and the elderly who choose to take it.
Arab leaderships could fund temporary accommodation for the returning exiles in Syria proper as well as those currently subsisting in Turkish-run camps.
Helping Syrians to achieve peace that will allow for free and fair monitored elections and the rebuilding of the economy is the best way to loosen Tehran’s grip over this ancient Arab land. Syria is not ideologically in bed with Iran that capitalised on its vulnerabilities to further its own ambitions. Here it is worth remembering that the president’s father Hafez Al Assad, whose leadership extended from 1971-2000, was a secular standard-bearer of Arab nationalism and a staunch defender of the Palestinian cause.
Let’s get back to the principle of right and wrong. Syria should be supported to regain its territory, rebuild and renew. All Syrian refugees whether in Turkey or elsewhere should be encouraged/incentivised to go home with assurances of amnesty.
And on the plus side, the Turkish president will no longer be able to use refugees as weapons with which to hold Europe hostage. Moreover the economic burdens suffered by cash-strapped Lebanon and Jordan partially due to their hosting of Syrians will be substantially reduced.
The Arab League should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the government in order to achieve those goals conditional upon the withdrawal of Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters from Syrian soil. Iraq may have fallen into the ayatollahs’ hands, courtesy of George W. Bush and his band of neocons, but there is still time to save Syria from their clutches.
— Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.