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The Noose Tightens on Syria


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The Syrian regime agreed to the initiative, but in actuality, nothing was implemented. On the contrary, the death toll increased in the days after the initiative was accepted, and the number of daily fatalities stood at tens every day. On the 14th of November, about eighty soldiers and citizens were killed throughout Syria in exchanges of fire between the “Shabbiha” militias, which work for the government, and soldiers who deserted the army with their weapons along with regular citizens.

 

The long enmity between the Arab political system, which is embodied by the Arab League, and the Syrian regime are expressed in these troubled times by the words of the Prime Minister of Qatar, the state of “al-Jazeera”, who is the present head of the Arab League. He, together with the Egyptian secretary of the League, Nabil al-Arabi, lead the council of the foreign ministers of the League in presenting an unprecedented ultimatum before the Syrian regime. The Prime Minister of Qatar demanded that Assad immediately withdraw the army from the cities and stop shooting the citizens, and if not, the Arab League will impose economic sanctions upon Syria, recall their ambassadors and recognize the opposition organizations as the legitimate representation of the Syrian people.

 

Also Abdallah the second, King of Jordan, said last week in a broadcast interview that the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, must leave office. No doubt, there is, in these words, a sort of Jordanian revenge for scorn that Hafez Assad poured on Abdallah’s father, King Hussein, for making a separate peace with Israel and thus betraying the Arab nation. Today, with the horrible visions of Syrian oppression that has taken thousands of lives, the King of Jordan rubs his hands with a smile and asks silently: Who is the real traitor of the Arab nation?

 

The Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, at one time a Saudi ambassador to Washington and head of Saudi intelligence, also said last week that “There is no way out except for Bashar al-Assad to resign”, and with this he expressed the mood of the Saudi royal family, which over the years, has taken sharp criticism from al-Asad, both father and son. Erdoghan, the Turk, for the past few months has been saying similar things, and hosts the meetings of the Syrian opposition organizations in Istanbul. He threatened Syria with creating a security buffer zone where any Syrian citizens who fear for their lives can flee to. In other words, Turkey is threatening to take over an area in Northern Syria, next to the Turkish border, so that Syrian citizens fleeing from the Syrian army’s fire will not need to cross the border with Turkey. Erdoghan still has not taken these military measures against Syria, probably because of the Iranian threat to attack Turkey if Turkey attacks Syria.

 

Words such as the recommendation of the Jordanian king and the Saudi prince, which are freely spoken today in the Arab media by many commentators, drive the Syrians out of their minds, and every time that a representative of the Syrian regime appears in the media and is asked about the oppression of the demonstrations they “lose it”, yell, curse, threaten, and in one case – in a television studio in Lebanon – there was a tussle between two interviewees in front of the cameras, one who supports the regime and the other who opposes it. The emotional pressure in which they find themselves stems also from the fact that more and more people, who until lately were part of the elite of the regime, defect and cast off Assad and his regime because they feel that his time is running out and he’s losing his ability to control Syria. This phenomenon very much resembles the defection of associates that we saw in Libya, where also, people fled like rats from the sinking ship of Gaddafi.

 

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About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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