By Hassan Haidar
The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are certain that Iranian forces are taking part in the war in Syria alongside Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, in addition to fighters from Hezbollah, who number nearly five thousand, on the fronts of Homs and Damascus. The GCC countries, on the background of Russia’s obstruction of the role played by the Security Council, therefore only have one choice: to activate the Joint Arab Defense Treaty, even in the absence of consensus over such a step among the Arabs themselves.
Waiting for the United States to change its mind and become convinced of the necessity of arming the opposition effectively, not just verbally and theoretically, or for the Europeans to become convinced to abandon their excessive fears of the radicals and fundamentalists of the Syrian revolution, and to take the initiative of fulfilling their promises of armament, on the other hand, would mean giving the regime an undetermined period of time to gradually eradicate the opposition, making use of Russia’s unlimited support and of the engagement of Iran and its affiliates in its defense.
Indeed, sufficing oneself with American and European statements, dominated by rhetoric and of predictable content, will not help change the balance of power on the ground, despite the West’s verbal “commitment” to seeking to do so. In fact, it is imperative for the countries concerned with the expansion of Iran in the Arab World to resort to taking practical steps, without waiting for the Security Council or for international or Arab consensus, as well as a bold, public and decisive decision to support the Syrian revolution militarily, which would include sending troops to take part in the fighting.
If we were to go back a few years to the 1990s, and ask: what if no international consensus had been reached on condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and no multiple international warnings been directed at Saddam Hussein about the necessity of withdrawing his army? Would the countries of the Gulf have waited for the Americans, the Russians, and the Europeans to agree on the need to liberate Kuwait? Of course not: the five remaining members of the GCC would have waged the battle of liberation with their own forces.
Today, if the GCC considers Syria to have become an occupied country, and if Riyadh considers the Syrian resistance to be waging war against foreign invaders (Iran and Hezbollah), then the logical conclusion of such discourse would be to take practical steps to defend an Arab country whose ruler has committed treason by allowing foreign forces into the country to kill his people. The fact is that the Americans and the Europeans, who are in no hurry to intervene, have their own interests and notions, which might meet within a general framework with those of the Arabs, who seek to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but largely depart from them in terms of specifics. Thus, every time the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister meet to discuss the issue of Syria, the Geneva 2 conference for the transition of power gets postponed for a further period of time. This is tantamount to telling the Assad regime that it has been given more time to improve the situation of its forces on the ground, while it applies itself to “cleansing” those areas that should be included in the map of its alternative state. As for the Europeans, who are unable to take independent decisions without the approval of the United States, they make promises then back down, and waste time looking for pretexts and excuses for their hesitation.
Is this a call for a new inter-Arab war? No, it is rather a call to correct a situation that has become unbearable, with unofficial estimates of the number of victims of the Syrian regime’s brutality having risen to over 200 thousand killed and half a million wounded (a number largely exceeding what the Arabs lost in three wars against Israel), and with sectarian division threatening the stability of the Arab World for many long decades if Iran is allowed to win the war in Syria.