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What does accepting that Assad must remain in power actually mean?

August 22, 2017 at 11:56 am

Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, in Moscow, Russia on 10 October 2015 [En.kremlin]

Throughout the decades of the conflict with Israel, we have condemned the way that the international community, which was born after World War Two on the premise of respect for international law and humanitarian values, took a rationalising position on Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land and the displacement and expulsion of its inhabitants. It has become painful and terrifying that this international community has moved slowly from a pragmatic adoption of the illegal situation established by Israel by force, contrary to international resolutions, to actually covering-up Israel’s documented war crimes and exempting the state and its officials from any accountability.

This international hostility towards the Palestinians was soon applied to the Arabs in general, which contributed to the generation of an Arab culture that is ambiguous in the structure of its nation states. The priorities of law and citizenship have declined in favour of domination and oppression in the name of security. As such, the priority of respecting Arabs, not only as citizens but also as people, has disappeared. This issue has always been linked to the circumstances of the conflict with the enemy, Israel, and it has been said that it will not be rectified until the injustice of planting the Zionist state as an occupying power in the heart of the Arab world is eliminated. Realistically, though, there is neither logic nor wisdom in fighting external injustice with internal injustice.

These considerations are making a comeback these days given the fact that the Syrian president’s remaining in power has gone from being a wish held by him and his allies to a goal that the international community is tolerating. It is viewed either as a necessary requirement to end internal conflict, according to Russia (which has supported Bashar Al-Assad from the beginning and ignored his actions), or as “the lesser of two evils” (Assad or Daesh), according to the current US administration, which considers terrorism to be the main problem in Syria. This position was also upheld by the Obama administration, but it said repeatedly that the regime is “attracting terrorism”; that is, it is contributing to its emergence.

Read: No peace in Syria with Assad

There is no doubt that the regime and its president’s role in manufacturing terrorism and providing various facilities to extremist groups is the recipe for both to be preserved. This seems to have taken place since the Russian intervention in the autumn of 2015 with the declared aim of “striking terrorism”. However, this was misleading and aimed to cover up the true goal: striking against opposition groups which are fighting the Assad regime.

More importantly, accepting Bashar Al-Assad, despite his involvement in “state terrorism” and group terror, is no different to accepting the state terrorism of Israel, which reflects the same corrupt approach toward the Arab people. This has also paved the way to the acceptance all of the crimes committed by the regime, in which the Russians and Iranians were complicit, including the use of chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, and the systematic destruction of towns and cities; and we mustn’t forget the thousands of people killed by torture in the prisons run by Assad’s henchmen.

Is the terrorism of Daesh and other groups enough to erase all of these crimes and give Al-Assad carte blanche to reproduce his regime, even though he was the main reason for what has happened to Syria and its people? Who is responsible — and to be held accountable — for the humanitarian catastrophe witnessed by the whole world?


A few days ago the Assad regime did something which confirmed that it has an international permit allowing it to do whatever it wants. It attacked eastern Ghouta with chlorine gas; while Moscow saw nothing worth commenting on, Washington expressed its “concern”. Nothing more. A rocket strike will not be repeated, as it was after Khan Shaykhoun in April, and the UN Security Council will not be able to condemn the regime for the simple reason that Russia will veto any anti-Assad resolution or statement.

Carla Del Ponte’s resignation from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic suggests that justice for the victims of the regime in Damascus has become impossible, and that rewarding the criminal responsible is the only possibility. Is this what accepting that Bashar Al-Assad must remain in power actually means?

Translated from Thenewkhalij, 21 August 2017

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.