Utilizing diplomatic language, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal stated that confidence in Kofi Annan’s mission in Syria “has started to decrease quickly.” To be more explicit, this means that Annan’s mission has failed, which is precisely what was expected since the beginning. This does not disparage Annan himself, as we have stated repeatedly, for this failure is due to the Assad regime’s lack of credibility, not just today but over decades of rule, throughout the rule of Assad the father and Assad the son!
There is much evidence regarding the Assad regime’s lack of credibility, and it is easy enough to observe this, but let us look at a present-day example, namely, the statement issued by the Turkish journalist who the Assad regime released after he was held for two months. Journalist Adem Ozkose, writer for Turkey’s Milat newspaper, revealed that he was on board the Turkish (Mavi Marmara) aid flotilla that was heading to the Gaza Strip in 2010 and was detained — along with other activists — on the ship by Israeli forces, and later held in an Israeli detention center. The Turkish journalist described the Israeli detention center as being “five-star” in comparison to the Syrian jail where he was held, adding that over the two months he spent in the Assad prison he would occasionally hear people crying out in anguish. The question that must be asked here is: What about the implementation of one of the points of Annan’s initiative, namely Assad releasing the detainees being held in his prisons? The answer to this is that there have been no releases, indeed detentions are on the rise!
What is even worse than Assad’s prisons is the fact that his killing machine has not stopped until now, and the story — as Prince Saud Al-Faisal said — is not about reducing the number of people being killed, but the necessity of stopping the killing altogether, as well as Assad withdrawing his military forces from Syria’s streets. This is something that also did not occur, quite the opposition. In fact, we have seen reports verified by video recordings which reveal that Hezbollah elements are involved on the Syrian scene, providing support to the Assad regime forces in their operation to suppress the people of Syria. Prior to this, there were — and remain — Iranians on the scene in Syria, to the point that some sources — and of course this is something that Annan and the international community must be aware of — claim that there is an Iranian operations room in Damascus working to aid the Assad regime with regard to planning and coordination; this is not to mention Iran providing funds, arms and more to Assad! So after all this, can anybody claim that Annan’s efforts will bear fruit? Of course not!
Here we see the UN is still unable to deliver the promised aid to approximately one million Syrians who are in dire need of this, and this is due to the Assad regime’s insistence that it must take over the distribution of this aid; this means that the Assad regime intends to pursue and punish the Syrians who are in need of assistance. If the Assad regime was concerned about the Syrian people in the first place the death toll would not have reached 12,000, and there would not be one million Syrians in need of assistance, this is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have sought sanctuary in neighboring countries.
The reality is that Annan’s mission was dead on arrival and unfeasible, and it is the Syrian people who are paying the price for its failure today; indeed everybody is paying the price with every day that passes. This is because it is impossible for political missions to achieve anything with a regime such as the Assad regime. This is well known, and has been proven over time and by the facts on the ground: So when will Annan shoulder his moral responsibility and announce his mission’s failure? That is the question.
The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
Write to him at [email protected]