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The “Arabized” and the boy-king

As expected, the Syrian regime has rejected the new Arab League decision, which was announced in a press conference led by the foreign minister of Qatar and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States. The press conference followed a meeting of the Council of the AL, during which a decision was made, partially in response to the report of the controversial AL monitors mission to Syria but more so as a last ditch attempt to allow a face-saving and reasonably short time exit to the regime. The full text of the decision is available on several web-sites along with summaries in English and Arabic. I have taken the liberty of removing the introductory part of that decision, which generally contains the “legislative mandate” and a great deal of references to previous decisions and sequence of communications. In the end, the following items were agreed on, with Algeria expressing reservation regarding the security council issue, and Lebanon distancing itself from any decision that may “impact Syria” while Iraq abstaining with no comment.

Below is the decision component of the document, first in Arabic and then translated to English to reflect the spirit of the decision as it was transmitted (To the best of my abilities). I had it ready on the night of the decision but I was unable to post it for personal reasons that have distracted me from 7ee6an for nearly three days and will likely continue for a while. I urge everyone to read it carefully, because I expect it to be the underlining “solution map” to be adopted by the Security Council. Events are hearing in that direction and this decision is likely to be with us for a while.

1-ضرورة وقف كافة أعمال العنف والقتل من أي مصدر كان حماية للمواطنين السوريين.

مطالبة الحكومة السورية بما يلي:

2-الإفراج عن المعتقلين، وإخلاء المدن والأحياء السكنية من جميع المظاهر المسلحة، وفتح المجال أمام منظمات الجامعة المعنية ووسائل الإعلام العربية والدولية للتنقل بحرية في جميع أنحاء سورية للاطلاع على حقيقة الأوضاع ورصد ما يدور فيها من أحداث.

3-سحب الجيش السوري وأية قوات مسلحة من مختلف التشكيلات إلى ثكناتها ومواقعها الأصلية.

4-ضمان حرية التظاهر السلمي بمختلف أشكاله وعدم التعرض للمتظاهرين.

5-دعوة الحكومة السورية إلى تسهيل مهمة بعثة المراقبين والسماح بإدخال كافة المعدات خاصةً أجهزة الاتصالات.

6-الاستمرار في دعم وزيادة عدد بعثة مراقبي جامعة الدول العربية وتوفير ما يلزم لهم من الدعم الفني والمالي والإداري، والتعاون مع الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة لدعم البعثة.

7-دعوة الحكومة السورية وكافة أطياف المعارضة السورية إلى بدء حوار سياسي جاد تحت رعاية جامعة الدول العربية في أجلٍ لا يتجاوز أسبوعين من هذه الدعوة وذلك لتحقيق المبادرة التالية:

أ-تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية خلال شهرين من تاريخه تشارك فيها السلطة والمعارضة برئاسة شخصية متفق عليها تكون مهمتها تطبيق بنود خطة الجامعة العربية، والإعداد لانتخاباتٍ برلمانية ورئاسية تعددية حرة بموجب قانون ينص على إجراءاتها، بإشراف عربي ودولي.

ب-تفويض رئيس الجمهورية نائبه الأول بصلاحيات كاملة للقيام بالتعاون التام مع حكومة الوحدة الوطنية لتمكينها من أداء واجباتها في المرحلة الانتقالية.

ت-إعلان حكومة الوحدة الوطنية حال تشكيلها بأن هدفها هو إقامة نظام سياسي ديمقراطي تعددي يتساوى فيه المواطنون بغض النظر عن انتماءاتهم وطوائفهم ومذاهبهم ويتم تداول السلطة فيه بشكلٍ سلمى.

ث-قيام حكومة الوحدة الوطنية على إعادة الأمن والاستقرار في البلاد وإعادة تنظيم أجهزة الشرطة لحفظ النظام وتعزيزه من خلال تولي المهام الأمنية ذات الطابع المدني، وتتعهد الدول العربية بتمويل هذا الجهد بالتنسيق مع جامعة الدول العربية.

ج-إنشاء هيئة مستقلة مفوضة للتحقيق في الانتهاكات التي تعرض لها المواطنون والبت فيها وإنصاف الضحايا.

ح-قيام حكومة الوحدة الوطنية بالإعداد لإجراء انتخاباتٍ لجمعية تأسيسية على أن تكون شفافة ونزيهة برقابة عربية ودولية، وذلك خلال ثلاثة أشهر من قيام حكومة الوحدة الوطنية وتتولى هذه الجمعية إعداد مشروع دستور جديد للبلاد يتم إقراره عبر استفتاء شعبي، وكذلك إعداد قانون انتخابات على أساس هذا الدستور.

8-تكليف الأمين العام لجامعة الدول العربية بتعيين مبعوث خاص لمتابعة العملية السياسية.

9-دعوة المجتمع الدولي إلى تقديم الدعم لحكومة الوحدة الوطنية لتمكينها من تنفيذ مهامها.

10-الطلب من رئيس اللجنة والأمين العام إبلاغ مجلس الأمن لدعم هذه الخطة طبقاً لقرارات مجلس الجامعة.

The Ministerial council decides

1 – to recognize the need to halt all acts of violence and murder from any source in order to protect the Syrian citizens.

Demands the following from the Syrian Government:

2 – The release of detainees, and the removal of all forms of arms from the cities and residential districts, allowing the League’s relevant (concerned) organizations and the Arab and international media to move freely in all parts of Syria to assess the reality of the situation and to monitor the ongoing events.

3 – The withdrawal of the Syrian army and armed forces of any of the various divisions to their barracks and their original locations.

4 – To guarantee the freedom to demonstrate peacefully in all its forms and to not confront protesters.

5 – Call on the Syrian government to facilitate the mission of observers and to allow the introduction of all of their equipment, especially communications equipment.

6 – To continue to support and increase the number of Observer Mission of the Arab League and to provide them with technical, financial and administrative support, and to cooperate with the Secretary General of the United Nations to support the mission.

7 – Invite the Syrian government and all elements of the spectrum of the Syrian opposition to start a serious political dialogue under the auspices of the League of Arab States within a period not exceeding two weeks from this initiative, to achieve the following:

A – A national unity government within two months from this date with the participation of government and the opposition and that is led by an agreeable person the task of implementing the provisions of the Arab League plan, and preparing for pluralistic parliamentary and presidential elections under the in accordance with law specifying the electoral procedures and Arab and international supervision.

B – The delegation by the president of the republic to the first Vice-President of the full authority to carry out a full cooperation with the national unity government to enable them to perform their duties in the transitional period.

C – Declaration by the so formed national unity government that its goal is to establish a democratic, pluralistic political system in which all citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations and sects and denominations and whereby power is transferred peacefully.

D – The national unity government is to restore security and stability in the country and to reorganize (restructure) the police force to maintain order through taking over all civilian security matters. The Arab States undertake to fund this effort in coordination with the League of Arab States.

E – the establishment of an independent body mandated to investigate and decide on the abuses suffered by the citizens and to compensate the victims.

F – The national unity government is to prepare for Arab and internationally monitored transparent and fair elections of a constituent assembly within three months of the formation of the national unity government. The assembly is to prepare a draft new constitution to be adopted through a referendum, as well as to preparation of an election law on the basis of the Constitution.

8 – To request the Secretary General of the League of Arab States to appoint a special envoy to follow up the political process.

9 – to invite the international community to provide support to the national unity government and to enable it to carry out its functions.

10 – To request the Chairman of the Council and the Secretary-General to inform the Security Council in order to support this plan in accordance with the resolutions of the League’s Council.

I believe that the road map renders the monitors’ report to secondary importance. If summarized,  The decision calls for the withdrawal of all armed forces and their return to their barracks, for guaranteeing freedom of demonstration and facilitating and supporting the mission of the AL monitors and ensuring free and unhindered access to Arab and International press access to the country. However, article 7, with its six points makes a sharp turn against the Syrian regime. The six points do present a new AL plan (roadmap), that will take Syria into a pluralistic parliamentarian system within a timeframe far shorter than what the regime has in mind and some bloggers have called for (i.e., 2021, which is the end of Bashar Al-Assad’s third term). The AL new plan consists of starting a “serious” dialog between the regime and all factions of the opposition within two weeks, to be followed by the formation of a national unity government from both sides within two months that is headed by an agreeable personality. The national unity government will be responsible within a short period of time for calling an election of a constitutional assembly, drafting new constitution, establishing peace, guaranteeing, the rights of citizens to protest peacefully, and most importantly restructuring the “police” force to bear the sole responsibility for civil peace. The national unity government is to also form an independent committee to investigate complaints of abuse and to coordinate the compensation of victims albeit with no mention of punishing perpetrators, which indicates that the AL envisions a committee styled more as a national reconciliation committee than a criminal investigation panel or court.

Thanks to annie, we have a copy of what the steadfast, always polite Revlon wrote especially on some of the key aspects of the AL new roadmap, But in international crisis-resolution initiatives there is no substitute for the full text.  Sometimes ambiguities speak more than clear text and I think in this case, ambiguities were intended to allow both the regime and opposition margin of negotiation instead of outright rejection of the decision. The reactionary regime of course could not but reject the roadmap claiming that it first violates Syrian sovereignty and that it falls short of the “reforms” the great leader has already initiated where none of the decision’s signatories have undertaken similar initiatives. The opposition, especially the SNC remain cautious regarding rejection, and have considered the decision to be a recognition from the Arab states of the legitimacy of the revolution, and the first practical step towards internationalization of the issue through the security council.

A customized version of the GCC’s Yemen initiative, the AL decision could have been easily used by the regime to its advantage and to guarantee a semblance of acceptance to its intended joke of a national unity government albeit with a lot of negotiation towards the forming of this government. Several regime-made opposition personalities (no leaders) are already scrambling to position themselves to play leading role in that national unity government, some in hopes to influence what they believe is going to be the next stage of Syria’s evolution towards pluralistic politics under the leadership of the “great leader”. The regime could have also interpreted the text  in item 7-B calling for delegation of authority to state that only those authorities required to facilitate the national unity government need to be delegated and that does not mean departure of the despised “great leader”. There are several similar examples where the regime could have found ample margin for maneuver and I expect that it will at some point in time request that this decision be undusted and revived as it enters into some sort of negotiation only to find that like the protestors and having been rebuffed and lied to constantly, AL members would by then raise the ceiling of demands in response to the regime’s continuing brutality.

Alas, the reactionary regime has decided on continuation of the brute force option. News of tightening the siege on Hama and increasing fortification of the regime’s positions inside the city along with complete communication black-outs are ominous signs of the brutality of the next phase of the Assad mafia clan plan to finish off this revolution in the midst of total melt down of the state authority and of the regime’s hold on many parts of Syria. With the exception of Aleppo, and the central core of Damascus, the presence of regime forces and thugs in any locality can no longer be equated with control of such locality notwithstanding the successful ejection of the regimes goons in few localities. There are signs of possible change in the Russian position, but I would not count much on that in the sense that any Russian plan would aim first to protect the structure of the regime apparatus even if it involves the departure of the Bashar Al-Assad.

As I wrote earlier, article 7 of the decision represents a road map. The opposition can also rely on it to shape the next step and in fact some of the elements listed in article 7 represent the minimum level of the demands from the opposition. The AL even addresses, rather diplomatically and again with a degree of ambiguity, the issue of restructuring civil security forces (Article 7-D) as well as the issue of forming an investigation panel (7-E). Overall, the plan could have formed a good start but the reactionary regime, thinking that it will be able to suppress history, thought otherwise.

Muallem’s Press Conference

As I write these words, Muallem is now giving a press conference berating Arab states for their “conspiracy” against Syria, It seems that he is trying to turn on the table to refocus attention on the “regime-friendly” monitors report, which now seems to have been written by the Syrian regime. He is claiming that the report validated the Syrian regime’s adherence to the AL earlier initiative. Muallem is still selling the “reform” package. He is now asking others to “learn from Syria” with extracurricular classes. It is telling that Muallem (the foreign minister) is saying that the request to extend the mission is being studied, and the moment they (him and his team) receive directives, they will go ahead with the necessary steps. My question is who is going to send the directive, and who is in the circle that “instructs” him as he seems to declare himself as a non entity with respect to policy, something every Syrian knew for long time. He is very persistent in talking about “armed groups”. Al-Alam TV is asked Muallem to take a decisive action against “armed groups” and to close the “Qatari” embassy. So now a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime is instructing the Syrian regime in what to do. Had any other foreign press representative asked questions with that tone, he would have been accused of violating the sovereignty of Syria. Muallem showered praise on the head of the observer mission General Al-Dabi. Al-Jadid TV  also tried to advocate a “speedy” resolution of the “armed groups” issue to an enthusiastic Muallem. In response to the Chinese TV question about sanction, Muallem admitted that half of the current economic difficulties in Syria are due to the sanctions. In response to “Lebanese” NBN, Muallem declared the Arabs’ role dead, but at the same time seem to insist on the extension of the observers’ mission!. He threatened now to break the glass houses left by the colonialists in all Arab countries (naturally with the exception of Syria!)

Muallem’s use of the report to the advantage of the Syrian regime will be a death sentence of the observers’ mission and will discredit the mission and its leadership more than they are already discredited. A good step from the AL now would be to dismiss the head of the mission and re-constitute the mission with far more neutral leader. Al-Dabi has by all means removed himself from being a suitable head of the mission after recent declarations. It is also noteworthy that the SNC has asked the LCCs to stop cooperating with the extended observers’ mission.

The Secretary General of the League of Arab States met today with the Ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council. At the same time, the Chair of the AL council and the Secretary General made a formal request for a meeting with the Secretary General of the UN regarding the crisis in Syria. The internationalization machine has started, and I hope that the SNC will be careful, dynamic, and smart in the coming phase.

To say that the AL plan intended on helping Assad is a mistake, I think the Arabs have finally figured out how dumb and suicidal the Syrian regime is, every time a survival rope is extended, these bozos turn it into another knot in the noose. Figuring this out, Arab League will hopefully continue to extend them helping ropes and to make these ropes thicker and thicker in cynical hope that the regime will use these ropes in the same manner it used every single help.   Aleppo has a little vulgar proverb that says “يللي بيجاكر طيزو بيعملها بلبيسو  ” which translates into, “to spite his asshole he defecates in his underwear”, with the closest English proverb would be “cutting of the nose to spite the face”. The regime has always been a contemptuous gang. Expect it to continue to smell as stinky as it has made itself. Those carrying water for this regime, should look in their containers and probably smell their content before it is too late.

Olives, Ironies, and civil war

On Jan, 5, 2011, Subhi Hadidi, a journalist termed by many in the opposition, including myself, as a moral compass for being fiercely independent in his criticism of the Syrian regime, published an article in the London based Pan Arab newspaper Alquds Alarabi about the cornerstone of the Syrian regime and its evolution during the past 10 month. The article’s introduction describes the intent of Adanan Alsukhbi, the regime’s governor of the Raqqa governorate of Syria to uproot the 15 years old olive trees planted on the private farm of activist lawyer Abduallah Al-Khalil after Assad’s militias destruction of the the lawyer’s house.  One of two trees mentioned in the Quran (fig and olive), and a universal symbol of peace, olive trees are both mystical and semi-sacred.  And uprooting olive trees, next to home demolition, has been a constant presence in Arab memory ever since it has been practiced by Israeli settlers and IDF soldiers be it as collective and individual punishment of Palestinians, pre-confiscation action, or part of the controversial and illegal price-tag policy exacted by extremist settlers against both the Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

It was an epic irony that, in his forth speech since the uprising started, and while the issue of uprooting olive trees in Raqqa, being fresh, and with Bashar Al-Assad being dubbed by many Syrians as having presided over the killing of more Syrians than double the number of Lebanese and Palestinians killed through the two most recent actions of Israel’s forces, and right after berating “certain” Arab countries and the Arab League as betrayers of Arabism (Urooba), chose, with pride, Syria’s rank as the fifth country in producing olives and olive-oil as one of the fundamental strengths of Syria that he hoped will get Syria through the isolation his regime has put the country through. It goes without saying that farmers and refugees from Jabal Alzzaweyah and Idlib region, have also described Assad’s forces scorched earth policy of uprooting and burning ancient olive trees in this region, which is responsible for a majority of Syria’s high quality olives and olive oil. Needless to say, Syrians have been talking loudly about the fact that the number of victims of the Assads’ forty one year reign of terror already exceeds the numbers of Syrians who lost their lives in the multiple wars with the enemy the regime is supposed to protect Syria from. Read the rest of this entry

The “Half-men” respond to the Boy-king

In 2006, and during the Israeli war on Lebanon, Bashar Al-Assad, claiming leadership of the Arab resistance camp, and using the popularity of Hizbullah’s struggle against Israel to burnish his own image, called Arab leaders “half-men”. Whether that was on the minds of the 18 foreign ministers who voted yes for the suspension of the participation of the Syrian delegation in all of the league’s activities and meetings remain to be found by those who write books of political intrigue and personalities. For now, it is clear that the Syrian regime thought that its policy makers are smarter than the “Bedouins” and has underestimated their resolve and intelligence.

The Chair of the meeting today, Qatar’s foreign minister outlined the decision in 7 points. Here they are in Arabic, then in English: Read the rest of this entry

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