x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Islamists profit from others' errors

Two years after Syria's revolt started, mistakes by all other parties have been turned into gains for extremists, an Arab columnist says. Other topics: the Arab League summit and anoher Tunisian death.

Syria two years into the revolution: everybody's mistakes have become gains for the Islamists

March 14 is an especially meaningful date for Syria. That day in 2011 was the last day before the revolution. It is the day the Assad regime dreams of going back to, said the columnist Abdul Wahhab Badrakhan in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

Two full years into the revolution, the Assad regime has proved one thing and one thing only: its primary concern has always been power, not Syria's well-being. For this reason, it had no qualms about turning its extensive arsenal against its own people.

"Undoubtedly, at no moment during the past two year did it occur to anyone within the regime cluster that they may be, or that they indeed were, mistaken. They are never honest, not even with and among themselves. They continue to delve into a lie that they themselves fabricated and for which they wouldn't mind seeing the whole of Syria sink to the bottom,"the writer said.

The regime had spent years establishing barracks and bases in every part of the country, not in preparation for a confrontation with the Israeli enemy, but in anticipation of the inescapable war on the people.

However, all of its plans seem to have backfired to the benefit of the rebels. In fact, the majority of rebel military gains have been due to weapons they acquired from the regime's warehouses.

The regime committed an error of judgement by allowing the revolution to turn violent, thinking that it would then give it the perfect alibi to wipe it out. Now, its only concern is to stop this or that country from supporting the revolution, so it would be able to finish off the revolt, he added.

"[The regime] forgets that for months, the opposition barely existed and that all anyone ever asked was that the government stop the killing and shift to politics. It chose more killings, ignoring mediation efforts."

As brutal and as obstinate as the regime grew in its battle against the imaginary conspiracy it claims to be warding off, international powers continue to insist that the only way out is through a political solution that includes the regime.

"The international community has always been and still is a support system for the regime. The US and Russia butt heads in public but agree behind closed doors on what they want: the security of Israel, which has so far been guaranteed by the regime. What they don't want is the rise of jihadist Al Qaeda-affiliated movements," the writer suggested.

But the international powers' non-management of the crisis eventually allowed for various active radical fighter groups to take hold and gain in power throughout Syria. And that may be the greatest threat to Israel's security in the future.

The combined tactical mistakes of the regime, the opposition and the international powers ended up serving the interests of one group: the Salafist extremists.

Another Tunisians kills himself - for nothing

Last Tuesday a 27-year-old Tunisian cigarette vendor self-immolated in an act of desperation on a Tunis street.

Adel Khadri committed his act to protest against unemployment and the deteriorating situation in Tunisia. He is the second person to do so in the span of two years after Mohammed Bouazizi, said Tareq Al Homayed, a contributing columnist with the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Mr Khadri set fire to himself probably thinking that it would provoke an uprising against the present regime in the country. He may have thought that the world would rise to protest his death and that he would be remembered as the martyr who detonated a second revolt.

"But none of that happened. The unfortunate man ended up a mere caption in the TV news scroll. In fact, while he burst into flames, the parliament was approving the newly formed cabinet despite the tensions that escalated following the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid last month."

Bouazizi's self-immolation two years ago was conveniently hailed as an act of absolute heroism because it served the interests and ambitions of a certain group, the Muslim Brotherhood, that had its eyes on power and that saw his saga as the perfect vehicle to reach their goals.

Now that they have got what they wanted, the same act becomes insignificant, the writer suggested.

Doha Summit's agenda includes thorny issues

Since the very first Arab Summit convened in 1946 and until the last such summit in Baghdad last year, the opening official statement has included this phrase: "convenes in highly alarming and extraordinary circumstances that threaten the Arab nation's security and future," commented the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its Thursday editorial.

"In truth, the aforementioned phrase does indeed reflect the overall situation in the region since the establishment of the Arab League and until the present day. And it has always been coupled with disappointment at the summits' resolutions that failed to take any practical steps to resolve conflicts and enhance the Arab peoples' prosperity and security," added the paper.

The Doha Summit slated on March 22 is expected to have a congested agenda starting with the Palestinian issue that seems to have lost some of its stature despite its worrisome state. Another thorny issue that could cause a schism in the moribund Arab body is the Syrian conflict.

"Arab positions must be coordinated. Arabs must bear moral responsibility towards the bloodshed in Syria especially as the pressing humanitarian aspect of the crisis is calling for more practical and tangible efforts," the daily said.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk