Normalisation with Assad 'a political disaster', warn Syrian intellectuals

Normalisation with Assad 'a political disaster', warn Syrian intellectuals
A statement signed by 80 prominent Syrian and Arab intellectuals and politicians, warns that Arab states normalising ties with the Assad regime could have alarming consequences for the region.
4 min read
09 May, 2023
Many Arab states are signalling their desire to normalise relations with the Syrian regime [Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty]

Dozens of Syrian and Arab politicians, artists, and intellectuals have signed a joint statement published on Monday, warning that normalisation between Arab states and the Syrian regime will spell political disaster for the region and saying that the Syrian regime has nothing to offer "except barrel bombs and drugs".

Around 80 prominent figures signed the statement, among them former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Syrian political author Moudar Debis, former Syrian opposition chief negotiator Mohammed Sabra, former head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), George Sabra, Syrian politician and academic Abdulbaset Sieda and Syrian artist Abdul Hakim Qatifan.

The statement's signatories addressed their concerns to the "Arab general public", and warned that the intention by many Arab states to restore relations with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad signalled a looming political catastrophe that could have repercussions for all Arabs.

The statement said that the Assad regime's political rehabilitation by Arab countries would "not only give the regime a new opportunity to kill Syrians, but would usher in a culture of leniency around the killing of Arab civilians in other places too".   

The statement continued: "This disastrous trend calls into question the credibility of all the Arab development projects, especially those in the Arab Gulf, and undermines faith in the intentions behind them, because the projects are focused on liberalisation and growth".

It said that normalising with the Assad regime violated the spirit of regional development Arab countries claimed to uphold, saying that the regime "fostered criminal environment in the region" and normalisation with it "would strengthen [the regime's] ability to continue exporting drugs, terrorism and killing".

The signatories stated that rehabilitating and reintegrating what they called Assad's "criminal gang" back into international politics would be a new "stab in the back for ordinary, oppressed Syrians" and would send a message to the world that the "Arab regimes will always be against the ordinary Arab peoples whenever they think of grasping their dignity and liberating themselves".

The statement added that the Syrian regime possessed nothing "but barrel bombs and drugs", so  building bridges with it would not mean anything but the export of these to the other Arab countries which would "pave the way for the destruction of our cities and the early death of our youth".

Syrian author Moudar Debis participated in drafting the statement. Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition, he described the statement as "An attempt to warn the Arab general public of the political catastrophe looming if the current path being adopted by the Arab League towards embracing the worst criminal junta in the modern world wasn't stopped".

He added that they wanted the Arab public to ask questions regarding the political future of the Arabs, the development of the region, and the fate of the Arab people as a whole, and "to consider the future of our children if we enter into an era where criminality is legalised and politically legitimised through the door of the Arab League and with Arab cooperation."

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Lawyer and former Syrian opposition chief negotiator Mohammed Sabra said the recent decision by the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers to allow the Assad regime to resume Syria's seat in the Arab League signalled "the death of the League".

He said out that the statement was circulated to the Arab general public, after the League decided "to re-accept a rogue member who rebelled against […] the League's decisions related to Syria, both in 2011 and 2013, and plunged into the use of violence and force, disregarding all [the League's] decisions."

The Arab League's Council of Foreign Ministers adopted a decision to readmit Syria after over a decade of suspension at a meeting at the Arab League's Cairo headquarters on Sunday, the latest move in a regional push to normalise ties with President Bashar al-Assad.

This is an edited and abridged translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.