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memri
April 18, 2016 No.
6390

Egyptian Intellectual: The Arab Silence On The Syria Crisis Is A Mark Of Shame

In his February 1, 2016 column in the Saudi London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fandy harshly criticized the Arab countries for failing to take responsibility for resolving the Syria crisis and for instead waiting for salvation from the West.

Fandy wrote that the Arab silence in light of the crisis, which he said "lies between Hitler's Nazism" and the atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda, is a mark of shame for them, and that they must learn from the European mobilization to resolve a similar crisis - the one in Yugoslavia. He also accused UN officials of seeking to prolong global crises, not solve them, and criticized Syrian society as well for not resolving the crisis.

The following are excerpts from Fandy's column:[1]


Mamoun Fandy (Image: aawsat.com)

"When we speak of the Syrian opposition's consent or refusal to attend the UN-sponsored Geneva talks, everyone - the regime, the opposition, and the international community - must keep in mind that Syria in its current situation is the greatest human tragedy since World War II. This is clear from the statistical data, particularly that published by the UN commissions on refugee affairs. Of Syria's 22 million residents, 45% have left the country and have become refugees [in foreign countries], or have been displaced within Syria, moving to locations that are less dangerous This has exposed many children to the dangers of violence and war. We do not know what Syria will look like when the violence stops, or what new Syrian figure will emerge from this war. The main point is not which cities are besieged by the regime and which are surrounded by the opposition, or which have fallen to extremists who humiliate their residents. The story of the Yazidis is only one of the shameful events that will haunt us Arabs in the future.

"What we see in Syria is an absolute violation of human dignity, and the world cannot evade making a decision on what it wants to do in light of this shame - and neither can we Arabs. What is happening in Syria lies between Hitler's Nazism and Holocaust, the mass graves in Srebrenica [in Bosnia] following the fall of Yugoslavia, or the atrocities in Rwanda... It is a mark of shame for the [Arab] Ummah, which, though it has long boasted of its morality, has failed its first test

"When we compare the Syrian crisis, from its onset through its five years, to the case of Bosnia, for example, we see that the Europeans, unlike the Arabs, took responsibility for Bosnia and together made a decision: There was no place for an ongoing civil war in central Europe; there was no room for a failed state in the heart of Europe that would attract the world's madmen; and there was no room for half measures. Therefore, they launched a military assault, and also carried out the Dayton Accords.[2]

"This [European] show of responsibility and seriousness in dealing with the problem of Bosnia and Herzegovina is what brought about the current stability in the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia. The Europeans took responsibility, because they do not want another mark of shame in their history, after the Jewish Holocaust. They do not want it said that today they burned the Muslims just as in the past they burned the Jews.

"[In contrast, in the Syria crisis,] although none of them are actually sitting at the negotiating table, the Arab countries are actively [exploiting] the differences [among the sides in the crisis] rather than forcing them to reach an agreement.

"Egypt, for example, with its substantial experience in diplomacy, has not presented a single idea for a framework for a solution... and has adopted the diplomacy of creative silence, interpreted by each as he sees fit - pro-regime or pro-revolution. But it is neither, because Egypt is preoccupied with its domestic situation, which is in itself very perilous.

"The Arabs are waiting for the Syria crisis to be resolved by non-Arab elements - Russia, which has the most force on Syrian soil, or the international community, which became convinced that the Syria crisis was a mark of shame for it only after refugees began arriving in Europe and impacting the EU.

"The UN, as it always does, holds summits and appoints special envoys who repeatedly postpone negotiations. This is because the UN is a refuge for retired diplomats whose countries pass the burden of their salaries and of supporting them and their families in luxury on to the UN. As far as these functionaries are concerned, solving crises means an end to their livelihood and life of ease, so they see prolonging any problem as a good thing in itself.

"The Syria crisis is a mark of shame for both the Arabs and the international community... [and] for the Arab countries and societies, particularly the Syrian society itself. Its culture has failed to present a concept that can save people from the humanitarian crisis, let alone the sectarian crisis. The Syrians must revive their humanity, and the first test of this is in Geneva. As for the Arabs, I believe we need a moral core that will save us from the useless talk on the TV screens - because policy is set behind closed doors, not on television."

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 1, 2016.

[2] The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was signed in 1995 and ended the civil war.