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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

Columns

Smoke and mirrors
Waiel Awwad
March 02, 2012
First Published: 23:10 IST(2/3/2012)
Last Updated: 23:13 IST(2/3/2012)

Ever since the crisis erupted in Deraa, Syria, almost a year ago, many western nations started talking about a possible regime change, despite president Bashar al-Assad's sincere efforts at calming the protesters by quickening the pace of political and economic reforms. The demonisation of the president was a collective effort of the US, a few Arab nations and the West since he is a young, charismatic leader with a reformist zeal.

To a large extent, by prolonging the unrest, arming the rebels and pushing jihadists into Syria, the West succeeded in its aim. The jihadists were also encouraged by the fanatic clergies of the Gulf. One Saudi clergy even said that killing the president is 'halal' and better than killing Israelis.

But even after a year of unrest, the president is still standing tall and Syrians have voted for a new constitution. The referendum took place in the presence of more than 100 local and international news agencies and 90 legal and political experts. The result: out of 14.6 million voters, 57.4% took part in the democratic exercise and 89.8% voted in favour of the new constitution. However, it is still too early to celebrate because the war is still on.

What is surprising, however, is that not a single country spoke on how to save Syria from a war or how to engage with the Syrian government to find a solution to the crisis. When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Chinese and Russian veto on the Syrian resolution at the United Nations "despicable", the Chinese questioned the American morality of protecting the Arabs while the whole world remembers what happened at Abu Ghraib prison and how they used phosphorus bombs to flatten Fallujah which had a Sunni majority. There are more such examples: the Nato war on Libya and post-Gaddafi civil war or even the latest incident of burning copies of Koran by US soldiers in Afghanistan. The US also acknowledged the hand of al-Qaeda in the bombing of Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo and Ayman al-Zawahiri called on his followers to join the jihad in Syria.

In fact, an affiliated group of the al-Qaeda - The Frontier of Nusrat Biladdusham - openly declared that it was behind the bombing of the al-Midan locality in Damascus on January 6 and posted it on their website (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fml8sn08JPs&feature=player_embedded).

The truth about Homs is that it is a bastion of the rebels and Arab mujahideens from Afghanistan and Pakistan. This became clear after the Syrian army moved into Bab Amr and was attacked with Shipon 300, an Israeli rocket, and the Thermal Sniper Scope, which was used by the US army and Blackwater company in Iraq.

According to media reports, Syrian rebels are being trained at a hideout in the desert of Abu Dhabi under a new name of the company: Xe Service LLC Co. Some reports say that jihadists from Libya and Afghanistan are targeting those rebels who are willing to surrender to the Syrian army

The Syrian intelligence has now realised that the rebels have the latest equipment from US, France and Israel, which are much superior to what they have. This is the reason why there was a delay in finishing the insurrection.

This also explains the West's demand for a "humanitarian corridor" in Homs. They wanted it to ensure a safe passage for the rebels and their equipment. This also explains how foreign journalists managed to get themselves embedded with the rebels and the demise of two journalists.

The extent of covert work that was carried out in Homs to establish a safe haven for the rebels proves that the government was asleep when such large number of fighters sneaked in with arms and broadcasting equipment. It is also a sign that the war on Syria was not a result of what happened in Deraa or because of the social unrest. It was a meticulous plan to topple the regime.The people of Syria will continue to die and suffer as long as the West and some Arab counties get involved in the country's internal affairs and arm the rebels.But the president's success will defeat the external plot. This should push the government to establish peace and security and take the reforms forward. Then, Syria will be the only secular country in the Arab world.

(Waiel Awwad is a senior Arab journalist. The views expressed by the author are personal.)


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