Arabnews - Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s initiative to convene an emergency summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation during the last 10 days of Ramadan aims to find a solution to the worsening Syrian crisis. The initiative reveals the Kingdom’s concern about the aggravating situation in Syria and its sincere desire to end the humanitarian tragedy there.
King Abdullah is saddened by the daily killings of the Syrian people, who have a special place in his heart.
The king has serious fears about the grisly ramifications of the tragedy on the Syrian people, their security, and the country’s stability, let alone the growing number of innocent victims, which worsens in the face of an unprecedented international apathy. Since the initial stage of the outbreak of the crisis, the Kingdom has been striving to assist the regime to find a solution with the sincere intention of avoiding a civil war and consequent foreign intervention.
The Saudi move was undertaken without prejudice against any party, but with the sole purpose of maintaining the unity, safety and sovereignty of the Syrians. When the encounters in Deraa started, the Saudi leadership realized that the encounter, despite its apparent lack of complications and isolation from other parts of the country, might serve as the first spark to detonate a huge blast in the already tense Syrian environment.
The Saudi leadership urged the regime at the beginning of the crisis to deal with the issue quickly and wisely, complying with the simple demands of the protestors. The maximum the Kingdom could do in those days was to offer advice to the Syrian rulers to be clement in dealing with the crisis, not because of sympathy to the regime, but out of fear for the miseries the people would have to suffer.
The first Saudi step to help the Syrians was to communicate directly with the regime. The Kingdom knocked at every door and sent its officials to Damascus in official and unofficial capacities to discuss the issues with the Syrian leaders. These efforts came to an end with the king making a series of telephone calls to President Bashar Assad advising him to make a fast move to respond to the people’s demands, to make reforms that would satisfy the aspirations of the people, and not to ignore the gravity of the situation.
Not only was the Syrian response negative, but it accused the Kingdom of not understanding the real situation in Syria and the depth of relations between the regime and the society. Even though Syrian leaders pledged to adopt quick and comprehensive political reforms, soon they broke off all the promises and wriggled out of all commitments, and thus the Saudi hopes for a quick solution were smothered.
The Kingdom also strove to settle the issue with the help of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), that tried to contact Syrian leaders and mount pressure on the regime to make a helpful approach to resolve the crisis. On the contrary, the GCC efforts were resisted with a series of allegations against the GCC, and the regime emphatically refused any cooperation. So the Gulf efforts were also doomed to fail.
In fact, the GCC was experienced in handling Arab issues successfully, because it had succeeded in resolving the Yemen crisis earlier. Next, the Kingdom sought the help of the Arab League, although the league carried a stamp of traditional inability to settle Arab crises. However, the league played a central role in the efforts to tackle the Syrian situation. The situation also underscored the significance of the Saudi role to guide the league’s efforts to create a favorable atmosphere to make the right decisions, which is considered rare in the league’s history. However, the Syrian regime’s denial to cooperate with the league’s decisions weakened the Arab role in resolving the crisis.
Undeterred by the regime’s recalcitrant posture, the Kingdom continued its efforts to mobilize the international community to bring about a viable solution to the crisis. Under King Abdullah’s directive, the Kingdom made massive diplomatic efforts to form a firm stance toward the regime’s conduct despite the Security Council’s impotence following the repeated Russian and Chinese veto. The Kingdom focused on changing the countries in the Security Council that opposed constructive moves and finally persuaded the General Assembly to adopt an Arab League initiative on the issue.
Lately, the king’s call to activate the Islamic solidarity has come as an additional step to mount pressure on the Syrian regime to stop the bloodshed and find an acceptable solution that conforms to the ground situations in Syria under an Islamic umbrella. It is because Saudi Arabia does not accept the regime’s logic that massacres in Syria are “its internal matter” or describing the Arab efforts to end the bloodbath as “a conspiracy engineered by Israel and imperialist forces”.
The Syrian regime still thinks with an outdated mindset and lives in the past. The Kingdom will never shirk away from its moral and legitimate responsibility to rescue the Syrian people groaning under their regime’s repression, and it will struggle to find an acceptable solution under the aegis of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the holiest location on earth during the last 10 days of the blessed month of Ramadan.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sager is the chairman of Gulf Research Center. Courtesy of Asharq Al-Awsat