Asharq Al-Awsat – By Tariq Alhomayed: It is clear that the Syrian revolution has embroiled Mr. Annan – along with his initiatives and plan –in Syrian affairs. It is as if Annan today is trying to steal Walid Muallam’s job, for what he is doing to save al-Assad is far more tangible than anything that Muallem is capable of, particularly as Annan’s latest initiative towards Syria would not grant al-Assad an opportunity,
but rather would completely save him! Therefore the talk about calming the situation in the country in a “step by step” manner means that Annan wants to strengthen al-Assad on the ground after his control of Syria began to slip. As for Annan’s statement that we must collect the arms that are in the “wrong hands”, this was frightening and provocative, for does Annan want to say that the Syrian opposition is an armed, terrorist opposition, as al-Assad has always asserted? This would mean that Annan has begun to adopt the positions of al-Assad, and his rhetoric! What is even more dangerous than all of this is that Annan wants to continue pursuing his initiative, without putting a time limit in place, or taking this initiative to the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN charter, which authorizes the use of military force. Without this, any new initiative would be meaningless.
However much of the suspicion surrounding Annan’s positions disappears when we read and contemplate what was published by the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper this week. The newspaper initially published the minutes of the meeting between al-Assad and Annan, and then the next day it issued a retraction. This is something that we have become accustomed to from the Bashar al-Assad regime, and the newspapers affiliated to it, not to mention the newspapers affiliated to Hezbollah in Lebanon. We would initially see information being leaked about al-Assad’s meetings with visitors, and then following this it would be said that this information was taken out of context or that parties within the al-Assad regime were attempting to highlight al-Assad’s position. However these are lies and tricks that we have become accustomed to from the al-Assad regime. The al-Assad regime utilized this policy when it promoted the lie of reform during the early days of its rule in Damascus, as well as following the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, and indeed during every recent crisis in Lebanon and Iraq. Al-Assad also utilized this tactic with regards to his meetings with Saudi Arabian, Turkish and French visitors recently, and others.
The Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper report depicted Annan as if he were a student listening to his teacher, Bashar al-Assad, who was putting forward one idea after another to him. Al-Assad appeared relaxed and confident, whilst Annan mumbled responses and admiration. What is even worse than this was what was reported regarding Annan’s belittling of the Syrian opposition in Cairo, and his description of the Syrian revolutionaries as armed terrorist groups being supported from abroad. As if massacres and crimes against humanity are not taking place in Syria, and what is happening in the country is not a real disaster, the report also showed the tyrant of Damascus mocking US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and explicitly disparaging the state of Qatar. The report also claimed that Annan participated in this. This was issued in a report by a newspaper with well-known ties to the al-Assad regime and its allies in Lebanon.
Therefore Annan’s position means that the situation is increasingly urgent, and this is to save the Syrian people from Annan himself, as much as from the tyrant of Damascus. The simple reason for this is that whilst al-Assad kills, Annan justifies and expresses regret. This brings to mind the famous [Arab] proverb that “if you kill one person then you must seek the help of a lawyer, but if you kill dozens then you must seek the help of a lobby, which will carry out propaganda campaigns on your behalf.” This is what al-Assad is doing today, thanks to Annan’s approach.