This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 02/05/2011
President Obama has remained completely silent with regards to what the Syrian regime is doing to its citizens. Meanwhile, however, the US president did not hesitate to remind the King of Bahrain of the need to “respect the universal rights of the people”!
Obama is troubled by the trial of four Bahrainis accused of killing policemen. One of the crimes was even caught on camera, showing a policeman being mowed down by a car several times, as if the police do not share the same rights as the people. At the same time however, Obama has maintained a flawed silence towards the deaths of more than 500 unarmed Syrians, killed by the Syrian regime! Dr. Redwan al Sayyed was absolutely right, in his article featured in Asharq Al-Awsat last Friday, when he asked, “why does America 'betray' its allies and not its opponents; nobody knows except President Assad and the pillars of his regime!”
The US and France have gone quiet, as well as Britain whose prime minister says that intervention in Libya is not the same as intervention in Syria, as the former was justified by the position of the GCC states and the Arab League. This is the same excuse used by the Americans for not taking a firm stance towards the Syrian regime; it is a weak excuse and is ultimately worse than silence.
Before commenting on the position of the US and the West towards Syria, one must say that the position of the GCC, and likewise the Arab League, is also flawed, and there is no justification for it - how can the Syrian nation be ruled through armoured vehicles, when the regime claims to be republican? This goes for the Gulf and the Arabs, but the excuses of Obama's administration are [also] unacceptable. The White House issued successive statements about the Egyptian revolution and the need to remove Mubarak (we all remember “now means now”), along with the British Prime Minister and the French President. The White House was not the only American entity putting pressure on the Mubarak regime, whether through speeches by the President or his spokesperson, there was also the [US] State Department and Congress. Yet Washington was not doing all of this under the cover or the demands of the GCC states or the Arab League. In fact Washington leaked information that was offensive to the people of the Gulf and the Saudis in particular, saying that they are committed to the “dictator” Mubarak. Yet today Syrians are being killed by their own regime and the Obama administration has not even uttered the word “leave". In fact, the US president has not even said that the Syrian regime has lost its legitimacy!
Here is a question for Washington and particularly President Obama, who is famous for his “change” slogan: what is the difference between Daraa and Darfur, or between Daraa and Kosovo? Which is worse, what is happening in Syria's Daraa, or what happened in Israel as a result of Hamas' rockets launched from Gaza? Which is worse, what is happening in Daraa or what is happening in Bahrain, which is being documented by an international media prohibited from entering Syria?
If Obama believes that his speech in Cairo had an impact he must realize that his silence regarding the Syrian regime will have an even greater and deeper impact. The reasons for his silence are well known – to protect Israel and not the Syrian people, who, it seems, are not included when it comes to the “universal rights of the people”, which the US President calls for and demands the Bahrainis to respect!
If America is a real friend of the people then with friends like these who needs enemies!