Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Global Calls, Regional Meddling

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Global Calls, Regional Meddling

While Libyan rebels are said to have captured parts of a strategic city for Muammar Gaddafi's government in Brega, Syrian protestors are under fresh violent crackdown by Assad forces. According to the reports Syrian soldiers opened fire on protesters in at least one flashpoint city and deployed across the country on Friday as President Bashar Assad's embattled regime tries to crush a 5-month-old uprising despite broad international condemnation. Syrian troops opened fire on thousands of protesters in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour after Friday prayers in two mosques, according to two main activist groups.

According to many Arab experts, the more violent the Syrian military responses turn the sooner the regime lays the ground for self destruction. Some months earlier when nation-wide demonstration began in Syria, Syrian protestors have had enough chances to express wrath against the government and ask for democratic reforms. Their voices are now heard globally. The regional and international countries have enhanced pressures against Assad's government.

2011 was entitled as the year of change. Wide range of demonstrations across the Arab world and the global socio-political developments marked great changes this year. In a number of Arab countries, including Syria, the spreading waves of public uprising are uprooting the longtime autocratic regimes. Feeling isolated by the ever-spreading public protests, Bashar Al Asad government has abided by many opposition demands. However, they say it is too late to hold back change in Syria.

According to many politicians and analysts in Syria, the government of long time President Assad is enjoying its last moments in power. Having announced a series of reforms following the riot was given a kick start in wider parts of the country, Assad has failed to talk into the angry protestors. The opposition, political activists and human rights organizations say, Bashar Al-Asad didn't like but was forced to concede some of the reforms that Syrians were denied since his Father, Hafiz Assad, came to power following 1963 coup d'état.

In addition to the longstanding opposition, International pressure on Syria has increased recently. Amongst significant international calls for democratic approach in Syria, President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had "underlined the necessity to speed up the reform process in Syria in order to meet the demands of the Syrian people". In the most recent event, the United States and Turkey have agreed on the need for a "transition to democracy" in Syria.

The White House said that President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also agreed during a phone call on the need for an "immediate halt of all bloodshed and violence against the Syrian people" by forces loyal to Assad. "The two leaders underscored the urgency of the situation, reiterated their deep concern about the Syrian government's use of violence against civilians and their belief that the Syrian people's legitimate demands for a transition to democracy should be met," the White House said in a readout of the call.

The European and US governments have made efforts to prove into Assad government that time was not in favor of them and he had to step down to ensure a democratic transition in the country. For that, they have used many of the possible means to convince the regime to stop violent crackdown against protestors and abide by international calls for democratic changes there. The US has frequently called on the Arab nations to put pressure on Assad government to leave power and embrace democratic demands. Resorting to the last means to survive the increasingly domestic and international opposition, Syrian government made promises to practice democratic demands made by angry demonstrators. However, less has been achieved in practice than those promised by President Assad in several speeches he has made to Syrian protestors.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has called on other nations with closer economic links to Syria to join it in sanctions on Bashar al-Assad's regime. She said Washington had been "very clear" in its statements about Assad's loss of legitimacy but the "real trick" was to convince "the Europeans and the Arabs and the Chinese and the Indians and others" to do more."We're going to sanction and we have been upping the sanctions. We're going to continue to do so," she said in a CBS interview. "But we want others to follow, because Syria was not one of our major economic partners." The U.S. ambassador to Damascus also directly threatened the Syrian foreign minister that Syria will face additional sanctions if it does not stop killing protesters.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at a briefing that though Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, has not traveled the country beyond Damascus, he made it clear that the U.S. will amplify the pressure on Syria if the bloodshed doesn't stop. In the wake of the crackdown by the Syrian security forces that has killed thousand of people the U.S. has imposed rounds of sanctions that targeted President Bashar al-Assad, his brother and others. Last Wednesday, the U.S. targeted the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria, its Lebanon-based subsidiary and the largest mobile phone operator, Syriatel. Nuland said Ford told Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, "Empty rhetoric isn't going to suffice," referring to Assad's promises of reforms.

On the other hand, there have been certain groups inside and outside the country helping protestors and the armed dissidents who have served Assad Government's claim for fight against armed militants in Syria. A report said last week that Lebanese army intelligence had intercepted a covert shipment of 1,000 assault rifles, reportedly destined for the city of Baniyas in Syria. Army investigators said they have uncovered ties between the smugglers and the political entourage of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Baniyas is one of a number of cities hit by protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the months since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Syrian regime has mobilized the Syrian army against these protests, which have been concentrated in majority-Sunni regions of the country, claiming it was trying to repress violent opposition by armed guerrilla movements. The Syrian army claimed last week that in recent fighting near Homs it has detained hundreds of Salafi fighters with Lebanese documents. The Lebanese cabinet met Monday to discuss the arms-smuggling case. There are increasing tensions between political forces inside Lebanon—especially between the US-backed March 14 alliance and the Syrian-backed March 8 alliance formed around Hezbollah.

In the meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups have frequently said Iran has sent units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to attack thousands of anti-Assad protesters. Opposition sources have said IRGC have transported hundreds of commandos via helicopter to several violence-cracked Syrian cities. In view of such reports, the European Union imposed sanctions on three commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, including its chief, accusing them of aiding the crackdown in Syria.

Irrespective of how long the demonstrations will take and how the world countries would approach, public riots have sufficiently represented the nation's will to embrace freedom and break the chains of tyranny. International supports would remain crucial to toppling down the regime in Syria but, on the other hand, regional interferences to pursue political interests and address individual disputes would put the process in danger.

External interferences by any Arab or Non-Arab country may help further violations against people because it can serve best Syrian government's claims for fighting armed militants. It can counteract public wins made by bloody sacrifices to set up democracy. Likewise, the world should not take too lightly external assistance by Iran or any military groups for Assad government to attack demonstrations.

Nasruddin Hemati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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