Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Swimming Against the Tide

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Swimming Against the Tide

Amidst increasing domestic and international calls upon Syrian regime to stop violence against civilian protestors, Bashar Al Assad's forces continue cracking down against unarmed Syrian demonstrators who have been asking for their political rights since the very beginning of this year. Alike the Libyan Moammar Al Gaddafi who was finally left unaided at the hands of angry revolutionaries, Bashar Al Assad is now talking about unremitting resistance against revolutionaries.

He defiantly vowed to fight and die if needed as an Arab League deadline for his government to stop its lethal crackdown on protesters expired. With rebel troops inflicting mounting losses on the regular army, Turkey and the United States both raised the specter of civil war and Russia called for restraint.

But in an interview with London's Sunday Times, conducted before the Arab League deadline lapsed, Assad said he was "definitely" prepared to fight and die for Syria if faced with foreign intervention. "This goes without saying and is an absolute," he said.

The president said he felt sorrow for each drop of Syrian blood spilt but insisted Damascus must go after armed rebel gangs and enforce law and order. "The conflict will continue and the pressure to subjugate Syria will continue," he said. "I assure you that Syria will not bow down and that it will continue to resist the pressure being imposed on it." Assad accused the Arab League of creating a pretext for Western military intervention, which he said would trigger an "earthquake" across the Middle East.

As demonstrations got tense in the Middle Eastern Arab country, Russia joined Arab and western countries asking Assad to abide by intensifying public demands and leave power to lay out the ground for a democratic change in the country. However, Russia's political interest, the country's ties with Syria and its fear from a western-backed regime in Syria left no reason for the country to support further sanctions against Syria or any international involvement.

It has staunchly resisted any attempt to invoke foreign interference in the crisis, fearing it could clear the way for a Libya-style military campaign under a UN mandate. "We are calling for restraint and caution. This is our position," Putin said a day after his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had likened the situation in Syria to a civil war. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu both warned that the risk of civil war was real, and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said he felt Assad had reached "a point of no return" with a change of regime possible within months.

Syrian protestors are under fresh violent crackdown by Assad forces. Reports show the increasing death toll there. According to many Arab experts, the more violent the Syrian military responses turn the sooner the regime lays the ground for self destruction. Since months ago 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 ranges 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 kickstart 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 from 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 dramatically. The Arab, 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 had has had to Syrian protestors.

On the other hand, there have been certain groups inside and outside the country helping protestors and the armed dissidents which has served Assad Government's claim for fight against armed militants in Syria. A report had disclosed earlier that the Lebanese army intelligence had intercepted a covert shipment of 1,000 assault rifles, reportedly destined for Syria. Army investigators said they had 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.

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.

Survival of the Syrian regime will greatly serve purposes of some regional actors including Iran. The only supporting country to the battling Assad's regime believes that the Arab revolutions differ from one country to another.

The Islamic Republic of Iran says, Syrian protestors were stimulated by specific plots designed and led by Western and some Arab countries. Unless otherwise, Assad's longtime regime didn't deserve widespread demonstrations. Thus, one can clearly deduce that the domestic clashes in Syria are severely connected to the regional and global realpolitik. The pro-Assad Iran is making its last attempts to help him survive the blowing revolt. But the masses have won the battle against the dictators this year. Assad's struggle for survival will ultimately prove swimming against the tide.

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

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