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Arabs losing ‘nos’ from Khartoum to Sochi

Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

IS IT coincidence that the bearer of the rhetoric, “No to al-Assad in Syria’s future,” is the brother of the Syrian foreign affairs minister during the defeat in June 1967? Is it coincidence that the bearer of three ‘nos’ at the 1967 Arab League Summit in Khartoum is the one who asked in response to Israeli occupation of Golan Heights: “Is it not important to lose cities because the objective of the enemy is to crush the revolution?” Undoubtedly, everyone in the Arab world knows the story of the Khartoum Summit during which the Arabs completed the strain of losing historic opportunities.

However, the scene recurred with some difference given the vengeance between one of the opposition leaders — Monzer Makhous and the late Hafez al- Assad who is currently embodied in his son, Bashar.

Definitely, this is a comical recurrence in history which brings with it major Syrian misery. As the opposition tries to impose unrealistic conditions in the Syria-Syria negotiations touring between Geneva, Astana and Russia’s Sochi, this could only be interpreted as prolonging the suffering of the people of Syria through killing, destruction, more displacement and immigration.

This, in itself, is recurrence of the Arab scene from the northern gate in terms of what transpired at the Khartoum Summit when zeal overwhelmed the representatives to declare three ‘nos’: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.” Since the start of the crisis, there has been a major challenge for countries concerned about the Syrian issue — to find a unified delegation to represent the opposition which consists of about 40 factions.

In addition, there are several negotiation platforms in Cairo, Moscow and Riyadh where they continue to fight among themselves more than their fight with the one whom they consider the enemy, while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and militias backed by Iran continue to expand on majority of the land in Syria.

This is exactly the same as the case of Israel which annexed the land it occupied in 1967; whereas the Arabs who are either engulfed in disputes or holding tight the ‘nos’, no longer have even an inch of Palestine. Today, the Syrian opposition has an opportunity to end the suffering of its people by adopting the ‘giveand- take’ principle. All other oppositions in the world adopted this principle and they got what they wanted without dragging their countries into the furnace of civil war. In fact, the opposition does not possess the strength that qualifies it to impose alternatives due to change in the balance of power on the ground in favor of the regime in Syria — a regime which enjoys the support of the military, armed militias and security agencies, and recognized internationally.

The regime has a coalition with major powers, particularly Russia and China. Without any doubt, the regime will not surrender through negotiations whatever it has not surrendered through war, especially to an opposition which is divided up to this day.

Frankly speaking, Syrians have known the regime along with its evil and good deeds over the last four decades but the regime does not know what the opposition is, specifically the oppositions which do not have the minimum part of agreement.

Despite the unusual situation considering the issue, the international community also knows the policies of the regime in Syria. Hence, is it imaginable to hand over Syria to the unknown where half of the groups they represent are on the terrorism list? This fact has to be crystal clear especially in front of the Syrians who are not aware that wasting any opportunity to reach a solution intensifies the Iranian intervention and domination over their country.

This matter evokes the utmost Arab sensitivity and extends the limits of war. It has become very important for the opposition to realize that America, Russia and even a number of Arab countries have given up the condition of removing Bashar al- Assad from power.

All parties want to end the war and keep Iran away from Syria. Such objectives will not be achieved as long as the opportunities are being wasted. If the ‘nos’ of Khartoum were the reasons behind wasting Palestine, the ‘no’ of the Syrian opposition will lead to wasting Syria. The main request of the Syrians regardless of political, sectarian and ethnic affiliations is to maintain security and stability.

Later, the people will decide their ruler through just elections with international monitoring. Today, Syrians are no longer keen on achieving this objective while al- Assad is in power or in opposition. Will the opposition be aware of this, and accordingly, the head of the opposition delegation will get out of the ‘cocoon’ of taking revenge for his uncle who was removed from power half a century ago?


By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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