The anti-Syrian coalition has apparently taken an operational break to develop a new action plan considering the fall of Homs and failure of the meeting of “Friends of Syria”. And placed a bet on the PR campaign against Damascus. At the same time, pro-Syrian forces are also stepping up their efforts. China has put forward a “Six point” program (practically the same as Russian proposals). Syria traditional ally Iran is not withholding support. Tehran exerts certain influence upon Iraq, which in some areas has begun to cooperate with Syria.
It has been more than a year since the Arab Spring or wave of revolutionary demonstrations rocked the Arab world. Commencing on December 18, 2010, the Arab Spring has already taken a toll of the rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen while civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria and major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Oman. There has been criticism of western interference in these uprisings and in some instances, direct intervention as in the case of Libya.
Currently, the Syrian uprising, which commenced on January 26, 2011 so far, has been the longest and the bloodiest. Despite denials, there are confirmations of western meddling in the Syrian fiasco. Two senior US administration officials confirmed to The Cable that the Obama administration is moving to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria for the first time, marking a shift in U.S. policy toward a more aggressive plan to help oust President Bashar al-Assad. Last week, a group of senior Obama administration officials met to finalize a package of options for aiding both the internal and external Syrian opposition, to include providing direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition. US Senator John McCain has become the first senator to call for airstrikes against Syria, saying President Barack Obama has taken too soft a stand against President Bashar Assad and his brutal crackdown on his own people.
Meanwhile, Wiki Leaks, the whistle-blowing website has revealed that undercover NATO troops are already in Syria despite denials from their parent governments. The information comes from a hacked email from a private US intelligence agency Stratfor. The email appears to be written from the address of Reva Bhalla (firstname.lastname@example.org), the company’s director of analysis, for internal use, and details a confidential Pentagon meeting in December. The consultation is alleged to have been attended by senior analysts from the US Air Force, and representatives from its chief allies, France and the United Kingdom.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdullah, who is in Russia on an official visit, has stated in an interview to the Arab daily “Russia Al-Yowm”, that thousands of weapons and mercenaries have crossed the Syrian borders during the recent unrests in a number of border towns and cities in Syria. According to “The Daily Star”, around 13 French officers are being held by Syrian authorities in Syria. Sources said the group is being held in a field hospital in the city of Homs. It was not clear why the officers were in Syria, when they had arrived or whether they were part of a larger contingent in the city. Amidst this chaos and disorder, one sane voice emerges, that of China. Its Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin at a regular press briefing has stated that currently the situation in the West Asian country was increasingly grim and complicated by prominent clashes between parties concerned. He opined that international community holds different views on solving the Syrian crisis, which is neither helpful to settling the issue as soon as possible, nor conducive to the cooperation and solidarity of the international community. He stated that China follows closely the developments of the situation in Syria, firmly maintains that the current crisis should be resolved through political dialogue in a peaceful and appropriate manner, and has made unremitting efforts to this end. He confirmed that China is a responsible country and a friend of the Arab people, including the Syrian people and it adheres to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations.
China is committed to upholding the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, peace and stability in the Middle East, and peace and tranquility of the whole world. For realizing a political settlement of the Syrian issue at an early date, Liu Weimin enumerated China’s proposal of a six point program comprising: The Syrian Government and all parties concerned should immediately, fully and unconditionally cease all acts of violence, particularly violence against innocent civilians. Various factions in Syria should express political aspirations through non-violent means. The Syrian Government and various factions should bear in mind the long-term and fundamental interests of their country and people, immediately launch an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions attached or outcome predetermined through impartial mediation of the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League, agree on a comprehensive and detailed road-map and timetable for reform through consultation and implement them as soon as possible with a view to restoring national stability and public order. China supports the UN’s leading role in coordinating humanitarian relief efforts. China maintains that under the precondition of respecting Syria’s sovereignty, the UN or an impartial body acceptable to all parties should make an objective and comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian situation in Syria, ensure the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid.
China is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Relevant parties of the international community should earnestly respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the right of the Syrian people to independently choose their political system and development path, create conditions and provide necessary and constructive assistance for the various political factions of Syria to launch dialogue, and respect the outcome of dialogue. China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for “regime change” in Syria, and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve this issue appropriately.
China welcomes the appointment of the Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis by the UN and the Arab League and supports him in playing a constructive role in bringing about the political resolution of the crisis. Under the circumstances, the western powers and Syria’s neighbors should discontinue their meddling and allow the people of Syria to settle matters themselves. If any international body is to assist the humanitarian aid process, it is the UN and none else. China’s words of wisdom should be heeded.
By Sultan M Hali