x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UN deadline gives Assad breathing space

Arabic editorials also comment on the factors hampering the Arab Spring and the results of the French election.

One deadline after the other to Syrian regime lead only to more bloodshed and destruction

This time around, the Assad regime was granted three additional months. This means its forces would have until next August to press ahead with the killing and the destruction, opined the columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashed in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

As soon as the deadline expires, the 300 international monitors would be expected to write up their deduction. The regime's forces are resorting to violence by opening fire on protesters and bombing their neighbourhoods; nothing new there. There will be among the monitors those who note certain "armed groups", without taking into account that there are people within the battered neighbourhood who are defending themselves.

Deliberations within the Security Council would have to wait until after August to resume and only then would the council review the monitors' reports. And once again, the discussions would focus on whether the Syrian regime is in fact practicing violence or not at a time when we all know that what it is in fact practicing is annihilation.

"What solution could there be for such a tragedy?" asks Al Rashed. "The UN granted the regime a three-month deadline without explaining what would happen afterwards."

At best, the Security Council members would be asked to vote on a decision to impose additional sanctions on the Syrian regime, which, most certainly, would be met by a Russian veto.

That would be the end of the monitors' mission. And in light of the ongoing killing spree, the Security Council would most probably call for follow-up sessions in December to coincide with the end of year holidays.

"Let's be realistic," said the writer. "The situation can't be left to fester even further while the world awaits the peaceful solution that the secretary-general of the Arab League has been promoting on the pretext of non-intervention. He is basing his statements on wrongful calculations and there will come a day when people wouldn't forgive him for his positions."

What we are witnessing is a deliberate global effort by a group of Arab and Western governments to save the Syrian regime. They failed so far in halting the revolution despite all the support and the propaganda they provided for the regime. The one thing they did ensure, however, is more bloodshed.

The fact is the Syrian people will not coexist with this regime and, on its part, the regime will not agree to forsake power.

"The only solution that hasn't been attempted yet is to enable the Syrians to defend themselves. It is the only way to restrain the beastly military apparatus. It is a pressure tool that could convince the Russians to let go of their man in Damascus," Al Rashed proposed in conclusion.

Three issues thwarted the Arab uprisings

"The worst damage any apprising can suffer and that may prevent it from a achieving its goals, comes from three interconnected phenomena: internal dissent, militarisation, and seeking foreign aid," argued Abdelilah Belqziz in an article published in the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

No protest movement can gain its internal political battle, fully or partially, unless it is unified around a common platform and a common leadership, the Moroccan writer said.

The shortest way to strip any uprising of its strengths, or to get it entangled in an impasse, is to deprive it of the united political cover, and get its leaders quarrelling over who represents it.

Militarisation is another problem that faces and mars uprisings not only in the eyes of Arab and world public opinion, but also domestically, Belqziz maintained. "Taking up arms deprives the revolution of the most precious capital it has: the wide civil grassroots support."

Armament of the opposition creates chaos, causing civilians withdraw, and gunmen take the lead, and worst of all, it grants the regime the legitimacy to utilise blind force to quell the armed rebellion, and disregard the opposition demands. This is exactly what is happening, the writer explained.

The third, and worst, thing that can ruin a revolution is when, in a moment of despair, it calls for foreign involvement, he said.

Anti-Islam rhetoric decisive in French vote

Political extremism may have been defeated in the first round of the French presidential elections on Sunday, but there is still a decisive - and menacing - second round in May, noted the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan in an editorial yesterday.

The Socialist Party's candidate, Francois Hollande, has inched closer to the presidential office after defeating his main contender, the incumbent French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, albeit by a rather narrow margin. That wasn't a surprise. The real surprise was that the far-right, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam candidate, Marine Le Pen, came a close third.

Luckily, Ms Le Pen is out of the race, but her supporters are expected to cast their vote for the centre-right (Mr Sarkozy) rather than the centre-left (Mr Hollande) in the second round.

"It is unfortunate that, in France, a rhetoric that disparages immigrants and Muslims has become a vote-winner."

More unfortunate still is the fact that this trend is making its way easily across Europe these days at the expense of the more inclusive values of tolerance.

"The French people will vote for their president, and there isn't much we can do but hope that it is going to be the one who is willing to … reach out to the other, to the Muslim and the immigrant."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk