EDITORIAL – Feeling the chill winds of Arab spring
THE UGLY SITUATION enveloping the Middle East is giving some credence to the growing risks of global anarchy if there is no established mechanism to settle internal disputes in countries where there is no history of democratic involvement of the people.
What we are seeing in Syria is perhaps a brutal response to legitimate dissent in an effort to nip it in the bud before it follows the trend in Tunisia and Egypt.
In contrast to Libya, the global response has again shown up glaring inconsistencies in the application of international law.
So much so that some analysts are saying that the biggest beneficiaries of the United Nations’ no-fly zone over Libya are the leaders of Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and the other Middle Eastern countries feeling the “chill winds of the Arab spring”.
The United States is showing signs of military fatigue, and quite frankly is not interested, and President Barack Obama’s priority is not to be dragged into another conflict as Afghanistan is already a costly quagmire.
When President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran, assumed office in 2000, there was some hope that democracy would flourish in Syria. Instead, in the face of brutality against protesters, he is merely being threatened with sanctions.
What’s worse is that the rising death toll in Syria is perhaps not as shocking as the apparent paralysis that has gripped the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the two bodies that are supposed to represent Arab and Islamic peoples.
As the scale and intensity of pro-democracy demonstrations have escalated, so have the people’s demands. Now, because of the brutality with which the regime is responding, the Syrian people no longer want mere reform; they want a liquidation of the Baathist regime.
The Assad family has been ruling Syria for more than four decades, and has never had any qualms about using force to crush dissent. In 1982, the president’s father Hafez al-Assad crushed a revolt in a manner that shocked the world.
Today, the people of Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen are up in arms against their despotic regimes and paying with their blood. Yet many say the Arab League and OIC have either not stirred or failed to adopt a uniform policy based on principles.
In Libya, the Arab League called upon NATO to enforce a “no fly” zone, but developed cold feet when air strikes led to heavy civilian casualties. In Yemen, all that the Arab League has done is to call for a peaceful transition of power, but in Bahrain it looked the other way while the regime targeted the protesters.
Throughout the current crisis that began in Tunisia and quickly spread to other Arab countries, the OIC has maintained a contemptible silence. Though it doesn’t have the military muscle to spring to action, the least it could have done was to appeal to the United Nations to come to the defence of the oppressed people.