Thursday, July 30, 2015

The scandalous sentence in Assad's speech

Mohammad Kuraishan
Mohammad Kuraishan

As hard as people try to look for messages, meanings or positions in the Syrian president's latest speech, they will not find anything more important or dangerous than this sentence from Bashar Al-Assad: "Syria is not for those who live in it or those with Syrian citizenship; it is for those who defend it."
However, when you look in the pro-Assad media for the context in which this was said you will find that all of these outlets ignored this completely. It is as if he never said it. Is this a coincidence?
This is unlikely, because it is hard to believe that the likes of Al Mayadeen TV, Beirut's Assafirnewspaper or Al-Akhbar newspaper have all failed to pick up on the importance of this sentence, which grabbed the attention of most observers in the world. This is because it is automatically more distinctive when it is uttered by a president talking about his country, which he should be defending.
What Assad said means that, practically, the president has no problem with "handing over" the defence of his regime, if not his country per se, to a group of foreign countries and groups and simply revoking the nationalism of those who oppose him. The latter have already paid the price of their opposition by being displaced or expelled, if they were lucky enough to survive his deadly explosive barrels.
Looking at Al Mayadeen's website, we find that it suggests that Assad praises those who have stood by him since 2011, but it does not repeat or report the strange and curious sentence that he said. "[Assad] thanked all the countries that stood by Syria, especially Iran, as it contributed to the perseverance of the Syrian people and provided support by means of its military experience," reported Al Mayadeen. "He also thanked the Lebanese resistance (known as Hezbollah) who fought side by side with the Syrian army."
As for Assafir, it reported that after Assad complimented Iran's perseverance and considered its recent nuclear agreement a triumph for such perseverance, he just thanked Iran and "the loyal friends Russia and China." He added "a heart-felt thanks to the Lebanese resistance who have repaid us in loyalty and blood."
According to that particular newspaper, the Syrian president also mentioned the countries that "took a fair and firm position towards what is going on in Syria", such as the BRICS states, along with Iran, which provided economic, military and political support, based on the belief that this battle is not the battle of a state, government, or state, but the battle of an entire axis."
Russia, along with China, "provided support that acted as the safety valve that prevented the Security Council from becoming a threat used by the people. They also launched a number of constructive initiatives."
As for Al-Akhbar, it chose the words said by the Syrian president that suggest implicitly what was said, without actually getting involved in the "taboo" of repeating that sentence. "Other armies from countries other than Syria have mobilised to help the Syrian army. I am of course referring to Iran. However, I must be clear and say that Iran exclusively provided military experience. As for our loyal brothers in the Lebanese resistance, they fought alongside us and sacrificed all that they could, including martyrs."
The fact that all of these "axis of resistance" media outlets failed to mention the crucial sentence said by President Bashar Al-Assad, in which he outlined exactly who belongs and is affiliated with the state and who is not, is very difficult to chalk up to a pure coincidence or mere negligence and a lack of picking up on the important points in his speech. It is likely, therefore, provided that nothing is published in the coming days to refute what I say, that these media outlets, which have been known for focusing on Syrian-Iranian relations in regional and international affairs, consciously and consensually decided not to publish that particular sentence uttered by the Syrian president. This may be due to the intervention of Syrian parties that have influence on these outlets or due to the fact that they realised, based on their political and professional senses, that the phrase should be hidden and glossed over with the rest of Assad's lengthy speech.
The greatest words written on the importance and danger of Assad's words, are what was written by a displaced Syrian journalist, in which he compares them with what was said by Mohammed Joulani, the Al-Nusra Front leader. Joulani said in his latest television interview that the foreigners in his organisation are "a red line we will defend with our blood", and the same is believed by ISIS. As for Assad, according to the same interviewer, he said that this is all "nonsense known by everyone. Assad only spoke out against those who are opposed to the presence of the foreign Iranians. He meant that the country is for those who protect it, regardless of their nationality."
The fact that Assad and those fighting him agree on this same point, despite everything else that divides them, explains clearly why this sentence has been hidden; it is, to be frank, simply scandalous. As such, the fight against terrorism must be "by means of rational policies based on justice and respect for the will of the peoples to determine their fates, manage their affairs and restore their rights."
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 28 July, 2015.

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