Messages of Tremseh |
Al Hayat - 16 July, 2012
Author: Abdullah Iskandar
Every time a massacre is committed in Syria, all eyes turn towards the Security Council to take a binding decision to stop the violence, and subsequently towards Russia, which still objects to taking such a step.
The massacre in Tremseh has come after three important milestones. The first was UN-AL Envoy Kofi Annan’s round of visits to Damascus, Tehran and Moscow – visits during which he turned from a joint United Nations and Arab League Envoy, i.e. one who conveys the formula agreed upon between the UN and the AL as embodied in the six-point plan, to the promoter of a new special course of action.
The second was the visit of delegates from the Syrian opposition – representing both the Syrian National Council (SNC), inflexible in its stances, and before it the Democratic Movement, which calls for some form of domestic dialogue and opposes any foreign interference – in order to provide reassuring formulas concerning Russia’s interests in the coming phase.
As for the third, it was the return of the Syrian issue to the Security Council, whether within the framework of discussing the UN observers mission and its extension, or of a new decision that would address the Syrian crisis as a whole and how to drive Annan’s plan (the first or the new one?) towards implementation.
Interpreting the messages of the new massacre that has taken place in the countryside of Hama falls within such a political framework, especially as there is no doubt over which side committed it – namely regular Syrian army troops and the Shabbiha (state-sponsored thugs). Damascus has officially admitted that its own forces were the ones carrying out operations in the area, and the delegation of UN observers has also acknowledged, for the first time unambiguously, that its perpetrators were regular army troops.
Thus the question arises about the regime’s motives for committing such a massacre, at a time when Annan is trying to include the participation of its Iranian ally in reaching a solution and is heading towards its Russian ally within such a framework, as well as at time when the issue is returning to the Security Council. And indeed, we have seen the reactions of the Arab and international communities, condemning it and demanding the application of Chapter VII, with some demanding foreign intervention.
Most likely the regime seeks to provoke such stances and drive towards escalation on the field and in politics, in order to prevent any possibility of dialogue, whether through Annan or Moscow, not to mention of course its absolute rejection of any discussion of a transitional period.
At the apparent level, the regime has said its piece on this issue by holding parliamentary elections and appointing a “unity” government with a domestic “opposition”, to such an extent as to appoint a member of this opposition Minister of Dialogue and Reconciliation. In other words, the regime has, in form, done what it had to do. There remains only to convince the “armed groups and terrorists” of joining it. And this is exactly what Moscow focused on in justifying its stance in opposition to any binding UN decisions to stop the violence.
The message the regime is currently sending is meant for its Russian ally, who has been sending conflicting signals on the issue of the dialogue and of those who would be party to it. Escalation within such a framework compels this ally to support the regime and the political steps it is taking.
As for the long-term message, it involves inflaming the conflict so as to leave no doubt about its sectarian nature, something which would bring the crisis to a new formula, one that imposes on all international parties to reconsider their assessment of the situation and of the roles they could play, especially in terms of direct intervention. It is evident that this conflict taking on a sectarian dimension will drive it to become an indivisible part of a regional conflict, i.e. one in which any slipup could turn into a regional war from which Iran and Turkey would not be excluded, not to mention the Arab Gulf states and Jordan. And everyone realizes that the countries of the region and the major powers will not remain sheltered from such a conflict which they do not want, for many reasons, and which they will work to prevent or prevent their own participation in. In other words, sectarian escalation drives away the specter of foreign interference much more than it provokes it.
Thus the blood of Syrians becomes, yet again, the price offered by the regime in order to remain in power and to frighten the world from the consequences of its fall. And Russia must decide now whether it is receiving those blood-spattered messages or whether it will continue to behave as if it does not know.