Editorial: If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it is Syria’s White Helmets

BRAVEHEARTS: Syrian rescue workers called The White Helmets carry the injured following regime airstrikes in Aleppo. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2016
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Editorial: If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it is Syria’s White Helmets

Wars are never a pretty sight. They tend to bring out the worst in humanity. The ongoing catastrophe in Syria since 2011 is no different. Over the past five years, we have seen it all — a brutal regime which has responded with bullets, barrel bombs and biological weapons to the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters who sought nothing more than to live decently, free from fear and be able to choose their leadership that is meant to be a republic.
We have seen the regime unleash monsters from its prisons, monsters who eventually became leaders of what is — probably — the most atrocious bunch of thugs humanity has ever seen, a terrorist organization by the name of Daesh. Not only did these criminals hijack the people’s peaceful protests and turn them militant, they also hijacked a whole religion and claimed a caliphate (or should we say a caliph-HATE) in its name.
Daesh has confiscated lands, raped women, tortured children, killed the elderly, burned people alive and recorded, broadcasted all of their above-mentioned crimes. Meanwhile, the regime sought to convince the international community that it is not the villain, but the victim. Unsurprisingly, the Assad regime was — and remains — backed by the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran.
The situation worsened for the crushed Syrian people when the world’s biggest superpower, the United States, failed to honor its word upon declaring that using chemical weapons is a red line. This not only encouraged Assad to carry on with his crimes, but also paved the way for a full-fledged and unprecedented Russian intervention in the region — an intervention that was not as much in support of the Syrian regime as it was to settle scores with Washington.
With the death toll estimated to exceed 400,000, and with millions of displaced Syrian refugees with no real hope of ever coming back home or resuming their normal life, the situation could not be any gloomier.
Yet, they say the night is darkest just before the dawn. While we all pray for the end of this ugly war, there is a glimpse of hope in The White Helmets — a group of around 3,000 local volunteers who are truly redefining the meaning of sacrifice, courage and patriotism.
Once normal citizens who were students, engineers, merchants or farmers, The White Helmets have taken it upon themselves to rush toward bombed sites and do what they can to pull out survivors left shocked and injured. Given the ongoing onslaught, one can only imagine how busy — and dangerous — the lives of these self-appointed rescuers can be.
As the Nobel Committee prepares to announce this year’s Peace Prize, Arab News joins everyone around the world who have signed an online petition in support of The White Helmets’ rightful nomination.
Furthermore, to everyone who has shed a tear, tweeted with anger, or wondered how they could help upon seeing the heartbreaking images of young Aylan Kurdi who drowned last year trying to escape this hell, or those of Omran Daqneesh who survived a recent airstrike and lives to most probably die another day, this is your chance to do something:
Go to https://nobelpeaceprize.whitehelmets.org/en and join us in backing The White Helmets.


Editorial: A vote of confidence in the new Saudi generation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2017
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Editorial: A vote of confidence in the new Saudi generation

The landmark appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince represents a vote of confidence in the Kingdom’s younger generation, which makes up a large majority of the population. The new crown prince was supported by a landslide vote of 31 out of 34 members of the Royal Family’s Allegiance Council.
The decision came in the wake of King Salman making a number of changes over the past two years. He has appointed many young and highly qualified government officials as ministers, ambassadors, provincial governors and deputy governors.
The new direction has also caught on in the private sector, where we have seen a trend in young and qualified executives being hired. It is noteworthy that many of these executives are women, who have the same responsibilities as their male counterparts.
There are, as always, some international observers who will seek to deliberately misinterpret what has taken place at the top of the Kingdom’s power structure. The fact is, however, that former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif endorsed the decision in a letter to the king. He was also seen on video by viewers worldwide congratulating the new crown prince in person.
That Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made his impression on the world is evident from the number of congratulatory messages that have been sent in, including one by US President Donald Trump, who congratulated him and said he was looking forward to consolidating the Saudi-American partnership.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, in her congratulatory message, said she is looking forward to working with Prince Mohammed “to deepen our close bilateral ties in the years ahead, building on the constructive meetings we had in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.”
The Gulf states of Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and interestingly, even Qatar, have likewise endorsed the decision.
We can expect more rapid and drastic reforms if we take all of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s accomplishments when he was deputy crown prince as an indicator of what is yet to come.