The Yemenite Solution

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - Government advisors in Berlin are pleading for the removal of the Syrian government along the lines of the Yemenite model. The Syrian President Bashar al Assad "and his entourage" must be forced to step down, if necessary with the assistance of impunity, as in the case of the Yemenite President Ali Abdullah Saleh, writes the director of the German Chancellery-financed German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). It would be useful to create a military threat of intervention against Damascus. Last week, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle toured several Middle Eastern countries seeking ways to increase pressure on Damascus. Westerwelle made stops in Qatar, speaking to not only the country's prime minister, but also with the Al Jazeera news network, which plays a major role in the upheavals throughout the Arab world. In reference to the massacre in Hula, Westerwelle declared that whoever permits such crimes, "must answer to the international community." According to reports by a leading German Middle East correspondent, the massacre was not carried out by government troops or militia loyal to the government, but rather by rebelling Sunnis. They systematically murdered Alawites and Shiites, who only recently had converted to their faith.

Resignation in Exchange for Immunity

Volker Perthes, the Middle East Expert and Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is pleading for a "Yemenite solution" to the Syrian Civil War. According to Perthes in articles in several media organs [1] "relatively limited military actions" for example "a series of aerial attacks" would not end the civil war. Proposals for "several months of aerial attacks à la Libya or a NATO supported invasion" have been in discussion for some time in Berlin.[2] Perthes warns that if one undertakes these sorts of military steps, one must "also assume responsibility for that country." Indeed, since the beginning of the conflict in early 2011, Middle East experts unanimously have been warning that a western military intervention in that country could plunge the entire region into a prolonged murderous chaos. Even Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria for the UN and the Arab League, has now been quoted saying "Syria is not Libya," Syria "will not implode, it will explode, and explode beyond its borders."[3] Therefore Perthes suggests that Assad "and his (...) entourage" be forced into exile, turning power of government in Damascus over "to a representative," in exchange for being granted immunity. Then it would be possible to "initiate the national dialogue on the political future of the country, worked out by the United Nations and the Arab League." This was the process used by the West to impose a transition of power in Yemen, which is why today one speaks of a "Yemenite solution" for Syria.

Military Threat of Intervention

Totally ambiguous is how adequate pressure is supposed to be applied to the Assad regime. SWP Director Volker Perthes also proposes military threats. The prerequisite for the "Yemenite solution" is that "the top government officials recognize the futility of the situation." This would only be the case, if Damascus has to expect "foreign military intervention would in fact" take place if the political efforts to find a solution to the conflict are unsuccessful.[4] "This is why it would not be wrong to establish a military threat of intervention," explains Perthes. It could "contribute to Assad and his supporters realizing that their time is over." Perthes does not mention options at the West's disposal, once it has created its military threat of foreign intervention and the Assad regime still refuses to give up. It would be exactly the sort of military intervention that the experts unanimously have been warning against.

Arms Buildup

Last week, Foreign Minister Westerwelle toured the Middle East seeking possibilities for increasing the pressure on Assad. One of the countries on his tour was Qatar, where he visited the Al Jazeera news channel. Al Jazeera is under the direct control of the ruling Qatari Al Thani clan and is known for its massive support of the revolts in the Arab world - with the exception of protests against the dictatorships of the Arabian Peninsular, for example demonstrations against the regime in Bahrain. News of these demonstrations is reported only in Al Jazeera's English language program, which is receiving a growing interest in western countries, but is hardly mentioned in its Arab language program, where it has a very strong influence on the Arab world.[5] The insurgents in Syria are receiving a great deal of support from this Qatari channel. Westerwelle held consultations with the Prime Minister in Doha, who is also the emirate's foreign minister. According to recent reports, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have further intensified the arms buildup of the insurgents in Syria - by furnishing the financial means for their purchase as well as the direct supply of the weaponry. According to reports, not only small arms but even anti-tank missiles are being furnished. In the past week alone, at least 20 Syrian army tanks are said to have been destroyed.[6]

More Dead Soldiers

Rainer Hermann, Middle East correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and one of the most renowned German correspondents on the region, is reporting on increasing violence on the part of the rebels. Hermann, who is currently in Syria, writes that, on the average, 150 people are being killed per day - half of them soldiers. This is not announced by the Syrian regime because it could give a boost to the rebels. The number of casualties among soldiers even rose sharply since mid-April - since the official implementation of the cease-fire. A dramatic increase in religiously motivated violence can also be noted.[7] Obviously the Hula massacre is one example, which is used by the government and the media in Germany and other western countries to drive the Syrian regime - whose brutality is undeniable - even further into a corner. Following the Hula massacre, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle declared, "the international community cannot return to business as usual, while the Syrian regime is subjecting its own population to this savage brutality."[8]

The Hula Massacre

The claim that the Syrian Army had committed the massacre was soon replaced with the hypothesis that on Mai 25 and 26 the 108 civilian casualties in Hula were victims of the "Shabiha" militia loyal to the government. They are also notorious for their brutality. Research carried out by members of the Syrian opposition, however, indicate that the massacre - used by the West not only as a pretext to expel Syrian diplomats but also for launching open war threats - had not been committed by government forces but rather by insurgents. This was reported from Damascus by Rainer Hermann quoting members of the opposition, who prefer to remain anonymous because regime opponents, who oppose violence were recently killed by armed insurgents. According to their research, armed insurgents initiated the fighting on Mai 25 by attacking army checkpoints, which were to protect the Alawite villages around, the predominantly Sunni, Hula. While dozens of soldiers and insurgents were killed in the fighting, the massacre of civilians took place in Hula.[9]

Converts Slaughtered

In reference to these sources in the opposition, Hermann reported that "several dozen members of one family were slaughtered, who had converted from Sunni to Shiite Islam," as well as "members of the Alawite Shomaliya family and the family of a Sunni deputy, who was considered a collaborator." After the massacre, the perpetrators "filmed their victims, declared them as Sunni victims and propagated the video via internet."[10]

Unpredictable Consequences

Rainer Hermann is considered an eminent expert on the Arab world and is known for his solid research. If his reports are confirmed, it would not only mean that the German and other Western governments are using a massacre perpetrated by the insurgents to legitimize new acts of aggression against the Assad regime,[11] it would also confirm that arming the insurgents does not reinforce the movement of civil protest but of the violent forces, who do not shirk from murdering non-violent members of the opposition and committing religiously motivated massacres. Just a few months ago, the US magazine "Foreign Policy" warned against unpredictable consequences of the Saudi-Qatari rearmament of the insurgents. Not without sarcasm, the magazine remarked "the last time the Saudis decided they had a moral obligation to scuttle Russian policies, they gave birth to a generation of jihadi fighters in Afghanistan who are still wreaking havoc three decades later."[12] Even then, this was carried out in close consultation with the major western powers, including the Federal Republic of Germany.

Further information and background on the German policy toward Syria can be found here: War Threats against Syria, Iran's Achilles Heel, War Scenarios for Syria, War Scenarios for Syria (II), With the UN toward Escalation and Market Economy for Syria.

[1] Volker Perthes: Politische Isolation des Regimes ist wichtig; www.handelsblatt.com 02.06.2012. Volker Perthes: Der weite Weg zur "jemenitischen Lösung"; de.qantara.de 04.06.2012
[2] see also War Scenarios for Syria and War Scenarios for Syria (II)
[3] Annan will neue Syrien-Kontaktgruppe; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.06.2012
[4] Volker Perthes: Politische Isolation des Regimes ist wichtig; www.handelsblatt.com 02.06.2012
[5] Oren Kessler: The Two Faces of Al Jazeera, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2012, S. 47-56
[6] Arming of Syria rebels gains momentum; www.ft.com 08.06.2012
[7] Gewöhnen an den Tod; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.06.2012
[8] Sicherheitsrat verurteilt Gewalt im syrischen Hula; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 29.05.2012
[9], [10] Abermals Massaker in Syrien; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.06.2012
[11] see also Market Economy for Syria
[12] Saudi-Arabia Is Arming the Syrian Opposition; www.foreignpolicy.com 27.02.2012