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  • A Slow Suicide
    Sun, 08 January 2012
    Abdullah Iskandar

    It has become clear that the mission of the Arab League observers in Syria is facing difficulties. The observers have so far not been able to achieve any of their mission’s goals, at a time when the crisis remains in a predicament that could last long, with ongoing cases of violence against demonstrators and protesters, and a rising number of casualties.

    And if some lay the responsibility for such difficulties on the observers themselves, because they were unable to impose the contents of the Arab League initiative by virtue of which they came to Syria, the authorities in Damascus do not seem concerned with facilitating their task. The debate over these issues could be dragged out, especially as nothing so far indicates that the report which the head of the delegation of observers is supposed to present to the Arab League’s ministerial committee today includes elements that will be decisive for the fate of the delegation’s mission. In fact, there are fears that this issue could enter the meanders of Arab rivalries, and stray amid desires here to drive matters towards internationalization and heading to the Security Council, and desires there to show that there are still opportunities available to the observers that have not been exhausted, and that more time should be given them by setting new deadlines – deadlines that bring with them additional numbers of casualties.

    Yet all of this does not hide the fact that the current course of events is no different from that which preceded sending in the observers – in other words, that the security solution remains the absolute priority, and that the views held by Syrian authorities still revolve around the formula that was laid down since the protest movement erupted, a period that is on the verge of entering its 11th month. The basis of such a formula is that additional use of force will put an end to the protest movement, since all the declarations of reform have failed to convince anyone, especially within Syria, that the authorities intend to take a new course of action.

    It is not devoid of meaning for Khaled Mashal, Syria’s closest ally, and one who is supposed to stand alongside it in pan-Arab defiance, to declare that the time had come to engage in a political solution, warning of the disastrous implications of persisting in the security solution.

    If Mashal, one of those best informed about the domestic situation in Syria, was expressing his own personal conviction, this means that the crisis has entered a very sensitive phase, which imposes on the Syrian regime the reassessment of all of its strategies for addressing it. And if Mashal was expressing his stance as the leader of an organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, then this means that Damascus must review all of its domestic and foreign considerations in how to manage the crisis – this after the size of the social and political rift within Syria, as well as its impact on the country’s regional relations, has become clear.

    It is therefore no longer useful to mechanically reiterate the theory that there is a conspiracy and armed gangs at work, and that the authorities will soon seal the fate of the conspirators. Such reiteration only leads to prolonging the crisis and the disasters it brings for the people and as well as for the regime. Indeed, it is at this point much more tantamount to announcing its slow suicide than a way to resolve the issue of the protest movement, as the more blood is shed in the streets, the more it becomes difficult to reach a peaceful political decision that would set the country on the track to salvation – if it is still possible to speak of a reconciliatory solution that would restore Syria’s regional standing, which has today become exposed to all kinds of interferences, equally from those near and far.

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