The Western media reported on March 3 that the rebel city of Homs had fallen to forces of the Assad regime after a bloody 26-day siege. There were reports of a humanitarian disaster in the city and widespread killings.
As battles raged in Syria, the US and its allies held a “Friends of Syria” gathering in Tunisia on February 24 that claimed its aim was to “help” the Syrian people. The article below is from a February 26 Al-akhbar.com post by As'ad AbuKhalil looking at the nature of the gathering.
* * *
This was a quintessential American spectacle. You know that this was managed and orchestrated and choreographed by a low-ranking diplomat at the US Department of State. People with longer memories can see parallels with the theatrics that characterized US policies prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. International conferences were held and the US sponsored a conference for Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (which reminds one of Syrian National Congress – both are led by highly educated exiled natives whose presence could not conceal the power of religious forces they are dependent on).
But the numbers of the “friends of Syria” who assembled in Tunis is not really known. Assafir newspaper spoke of 50 countries represented. US media spoke of 60 countries. But Saudi and Hariri media can’t accept such lower figures. They insisted that no less than 90 countries attended. Usually, the US brings Micronesia and the Marshal Islands to such fairs to add political weight. Was Micronesia listed also as “friend of Syria?” If the former colonial power of Syria, France, is listed as “friend of Syria,” why not invite Israel as well? Why confine it to 50 or 90? But that would have embarrassed the Syrian National Congress. Chalabi used to promise the US government that once the US topples Saddam, and once he takes over Iraq, he will sign a peace treaty with Israel. Are Ghalioun and his Ikhwan backers making such promises?
But what was achieved at the conference beyond the rhetoric which did not satisfy the “sole representatives of the Syrian people?” To be sure, Saudi Arabia came with a high ceiling of demands. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has decided to push Qatar aside. Saudi Arabia will no longer allow its small neighbor and bitter rival to take over what it sees as a primary Saudi role: leading the GCC and the Arab League – on behalf of the US and the interests of Israel, of course.
Saud al-Faisal spoke about the Syrian regime as an occupying power and declared the idea of arming the Syrian opposition (as if it is not armed already) to be “excellent.” Now without detracting from the right of the Syrian people to resort to arms to rid themselves of the monarchical and republican dictatorship under which they live and suffer, would al-Faisal dare to call for arming Palestinians who are fighting Israeli occupation? Under orders from the US, this prince (who was instrumental in the sectarian plot for the Middle East in the last few years – much more than Saudi Arabia’s intelligence director Prince Muqrin according to the Emir of Qatar) would not even allow financing the Palestinian people in distress. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would only finance and arm those Palestinian forces which defend Israelis from Palestinians.
The conference won’t be remembered when the story of the Syrian uprising will be told. It will be placed in a footnote. The statement of the Saudi foreign minister will certainly be mocked, given the record of Saudi Arabia inside the kingdom and in the neighborhood. Nobody dared ask the esteemed “friend of Syria” how his royal family would claim to be friends with the Syrian people when the Assad regime could not have survived as long as it has without financial support from the Saudi dynasty.
But it is the season of posturing and grandstanding. The most ardent Zionists in US Congress are now posing as “friends of Syria.” And there are enough dumb members of the Syrian National Congress who want to believe the sincerity of Zionist love for the Syrian people. As the two conspiracies raging over the heads of the Syrian people intensify, the Syrian people would be best advised to operate on the assumption that they are alone and that there are no friends of the Syrian people, certainly not among those regimes assembled by orders of the US.