THE President of Syria Bashar Al- Assad gave a speech, which was characterized by his realistic approach to the situation of his country, after his swearing-in session for a fourth presidential term. He did not resort to the use of zealous slogans, as is customary with the leaders of revolutionary republics. He instead extended a hand of cooperation to all Arabs, despite the sins they committed against Syria – to both the regime and the people.
This is the message that the Arabs need to understand well. In this regard, it is necessary to put aside the rhetoric of instinctive hatred in dealing with Syria. We do not accuse an elected president of rigging or hijacking the power, even if he did not get 50 percent of the votes. Realistically, most of the Arab rulers are considered as usurpers of power, given that it is not the doctrinal or sectarian majority that determines the legitimacy of the ruler. This is because elections, despite its flaws, is a kind of democratic practice. When Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, none of the Americans came out to say the man usurped the government. This was the same even in Iran, where the voter turnout was about 43 percent.
Despite all the shortcomings that marred the electoral process in which the winner was the President-elect Ibrahim Raisi, everyone accepted the result. The ruling in any country is an internal affair, and no one from outside can determine whether the ruler chosen by the people is legitimate or illegitimate. A lesson to learn from Britain’s history is when King Henry VIII in the 16th century changed the kingdom’s religious doctrine because of a love affair that ended with his wife being accused of adultery. The Britons had accepted this change without being repressed, but the opposition to King Henry’s decision came from the papal base because the church controlled the majority of Britain’s wealth at the time. There were no demonstrations calling for the king to step down because he changed the doctrine of the state.
Mercenaries from different countries of the world did not gather to kill him like what happened in Syria, with the most prominent accusation against the president being that he belongs to the Alawite sect. This sectarian mobilization is what led to the backwardness of the Arab world. Resorting to agitation prevented the development of the state, and in fact had led to its disintegration. It gave way to its occupation by militias and gangs affiliated with sectarian external forces, as is the case with the Mullahs regime in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
The Arabs must admit that they made a mistake with Syria and its regime, had sought to sabotage it, and spent tens of billions in this regard. However, the outcome was the survival of the regime. Even though they described the regime with all its flaws, its army was actually defending itself and its country, which is a legitimate right. The ten-year war in Syria imposed Iranian, Turkish and Russian intervention, while the duty of the Arabs was and still is to work on helping Damascus and stand by it in order to get rid of these foreign powers and abandon sectarian discourse. The world today is governed by modern laws, not sectarian maliciousness, which is the trait of the sermons of mosques and Husseiniyas that plunged the Arab world into seas of blood, just like Europe in the Middle Ages. The latter emerged from the tunnel of bloody darkness only after establishing a civil state. Muslim pilgrims pray on top of the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the plains of Mount Arafat, beside inscriptions which were left by pilgrims from previous years, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, July 19. (AP)
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times