Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

Syrians’ options: burn, starve or drown

In Qatari newspaper Al Sharq, Faisal Al Qassem says the regime in Syria offers only death to its people. Other digest topics: Yemen and Bassem Youssef.

When the Syrian people revolted, Faisal Al Qassem wrote in an opinion piece in the Qatari newspaper Al Sharq, they were given clear options by the regime, the most famous of which was: “Al Assad or we burn the country.”

The regime has remained loyal to that motto, which its supporters have repeated in graffiti throughout Syria.

The more intense the demands for President Bashar Al Assad to leave power, the more brutal the regime has been in burning the country, obliterating cities and villages, and forcing people to flee, the writer noted.

In Homs, for instance, all that remains of the country’s third-largest city are a couple of pro-regime neighbourhoods, while more than 85 per cent of the city has been demolished. Similar situations exist in Darayya, Duma, Harasta and Eastern Ghouta, all of which bring back memories of world wars.

The “Al Assad or we burn the country” slogan is not the regime’s only way of bringing the people to their knees. The regime, along with its Iranian allies, has devised another deadly plan: starving people, and making the most basic of needs unattainable for the majority.

Most Syrians cannot afford to buy food, including local produce, because prices have soared to unprecedented heights. The Syrian government did that on purpose to defeat the Syrian people and get them to mourn the old days of tyranny when they could buy the essentials for much lower prices.

Using hunger as a tool, the regime is punishing people for rising for dignity and freedom. The Syrian town of Qudsaya, near Damascus, has been subject to a systematic campaign of starvation and siege. People were prevented from getting in or out the city or taking food into it because some residents refused to hang posters of the Syrian president on their streets.

It is a collective punishment that the Syrian regime is inflicting on the people, one that in the region is matched only by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The latest international figures estimated that 18 million live below the poverty line.

In addition to policies of burning the country and starvation, the people have a third choice: they either have to accept the regime or leave the country and embark on the “boats of death” in the hope of reaching Europe’s coasts. There have been many recent reports of Syrian migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.

By seeking to restore some of the decades-long trampled freedom and dignity, the Syrian people are under systematic attack from the regime, which uses every method at its disposal to bring them to their knees: preventing people from getting access to bread, health care and electricity, and causing food prices to skyrocket, the writer said in conclusion.

Bassem Youssef is in taboo territory

After four months off the air, Egyptian satirical comic Bassem Youssef’s controversial programme El Bernameg returned on CBC, a privately owned channel, on Friday night. His return prompted a deluge of contrasting comments on social networks and in the media, said the pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi.

Youssef mocked Egypt’s new infatuation with the military and its chief, General Abdel Fattah El Sissi, portrayed in Egyptian media as the country’s saviour.

The Attorney General’s Office received over 50 complaints against the comic, accusing him of spreading chaos, disrupting general security and deliberately distorting the image of Egypt.

“It was Youssef’s criticism of the new taboos in Egyptian society that provoked the outrage,” the paper said.

He referred to the events of last June 30 as a military coup and questioned the real number of protesters that took to the streets to call for former president Mohammed Morsi’s ouster.

But worst of all was poking fun at the image that is being built of Gen El Sissi and mocking the national fervour surrounding him, the paper said.

“The campaign against Bassem Youssef today falls under the phenomenon of intolerance to criticism or opposition in Egypt,” the paper added.

El Bernameg may be too avant-garde in Egypt today in light of the sharp rift that now exists in the country.

Government vigilance is needed in Yemen

Sectarian conflicts are the last thing that Yemen needs, especially at this most delicate phase in its history as it attempts to cross into the future through a constitution that paves the way to lasting peace, noted the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial on Tuesday.

The events in the northern Saada governorate on Monday have all the makings of sectarian and tribal sedition, and they should be dealt with severely, the newspaper said.

The government must be on high alert to intercept attempts to disrupt what little accord has come out of the national dialogue.

“The government must be relentless in dealing with any party that tries to impose its own agenda on others, especially if it is a foreign agenda that harbours no goodwill towards the region,” Al Bayan said.

Yemen’s problem is a problem for all Arabs. The lack of serious coordination and the absence of an effective Arab power centre have allowed regional interference to steal its way into the nation and wreak havoc.

“Vigilance is of the essence in Yemen. Deal brokers don’t care about the future or the present of Arab countries. Their only concern is any card that could give them an added edge at the negotiation table,” the paper concluded.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk


Updated: October 29, 2013 04:00 AM



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