x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Syria digs itself a deeper hole

Regime-supported attacks on Arab embassies in Damascus just make Syrian isolation worse, an Arabic-language pundit notes. Other topics: Yemen and talk of a Syrian coup.

Attacks on the embassies of former allies will only worsen Syria’s deepening isolation

It is fully understandable that Syrian authorities are furious with the Arab League and with a number of states that were responsible for the resolution to freeze Syria’s membership. But for this fury to translate into uncivilised attacks on the embassies of some of the Gulf states is unjustifiable as much as it is unacceptable, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial.

Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, did offer a public apology to the countries whose embassies had been assaulted in Damascus, expressing his rejection of such antics.

But the truth is that Mr Muallem’s vision and that of the security authorities in Syria are two different things. A government is responsible for the protection of foreign embassies and diplomats operating on its territories.

“We cannot believe that these attacks are spontaneously perpetrated by supporters if the Syrian regime unleashing their rage against Arab governments that are isolating their country,” said the article.

“No one [in Syria] would dare to assault an Arab or foreign embassy without getting the green light from the relevant, mainly security, authorities.”

The Syrian authorities should find different ways to express their anger against the states that are working against it, before severing relationships with these states.

But to storm into embassies and burn their flags is a practice that goes against all diplomatic norms and only adds to Syria’s isolation.

Syrian officials have only themselves to blame for misreading the events that have been happening around them in the world and in their own country. They stubbornly hold on to a violent appraoch that is proving to be absolutely futile.

It is they who have managed the crisis so far with the utmost disregard to their people’s protests.

Being the veteran diplomat that he is, Mr Muallem no doubt had these realities in mind when he formulated his apologies for such non-diplomatic actions.

In any case, the Syrian regime’s issue isn’t with Arab and foreign embassies, but with its own people, or a large portion of them the ones who are relentlessly asking for their right of democratic change and for their national pride, which they almost lost throughout four decades of totalitarian rule.

The embassies that have been under attack in Damascus were, up until a few months ago, considered to represent allies and friends to the regime.This only proves that Bashar Al Assad’s assessment of these states and their positions wasn’t accurate, which explains his shock at their sudden change of heart and their efforts to isolate it internationally and probably also take part in a military intervention against it.”

Conditions for a coup are emerging in Syria

The Syrian crisis is evidently heading towards escalation in the upcoming days, especially now that efforts to contain the Arab decision to suspend Syria’s membership have proved fruitless, suggested Hussam Kanafani, a columnist with the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

Events in the crisis are increasingly looking like the Libyan scenario, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that a foreign military intervention will happen.

Similarities between Syria and Libya can be seen at the level of army defections and the attacks that dissident soldiers are carrying on government forces.

In the last few weeks, military operations led by dissident troops have been increasing remarkably, specially in Deraa and Homs.

But the Syrian scenario differs from its Libyan antecedent when it comes to direct military intervention. It is certain that no one is entertaining this possibility at the moment.

However, the alternative to a foreign military intervention that is being reviewed, regionally and internationally, is an internal military action.

“This means an intervention that starts with increasing the diplomatic, political and economic pressure in the regime to ensure a wider acceptance for change. This would lead to more political and military dissent from the regime in preparation for what could become an internal coup.”

More pressure needed in Yemeni crisis

International and regional pressure on the parties to the Yemeni crisis haven’t yet led to a solution, commented the Dubai-based paper Al Bayan in its editorial.

The regime in Yemen continues to hinder implementation of the Gulf initiative, and so is responsible for its failure and for any repercussions that may arise at the UN Security Council.

As fighting continues, the international community finds itself compelled to deal with the situation more severely this time around, because it feels that the situation is quickly deteriorating.

The security and stability of Yemen are at stake, not only because the ruling regime has failed so far to improve either the economic situation or its political performance in the last seven years, but also because of its bad political performance since the beginning of the popular uprising.

“The resolution of this critical situation in Yemen will not happen anytime soon, but the international community must not relent in its endeavours to achieve it, otherwise Yemen runs the risk of turning into another Somalia.”

More pressure is required to force the regime in Sanaa to sign the initiative, which eventually guarantees reform and change in the country.

* Digest compiled by

Racha Makarem