Any attempt to oust Bashar Assad through external interference and military intervention will have horrendous consequences. (AFP Photo)
KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent Malaysian intellectual says Western powers are subverting efforts to bring peace to Syria because their real agenda is to bring about regime change.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), wrote on 4 June that the international community’s reaction to the recent Houla massacre – in which almost half of the 108 people killed were children – has been hasty, one-sided, and will do little to end the violence in Syria.
“There is no credible, independent entity that can help reveal the entire truth about the Houla massacre. The United Nations Human Rights Council which has passed a resolution condemning the massacre hastily targeted the Syrian government as the culprit without waiting for reports from the UN-Arab League Observer Mission in Syria,” he said.
Dr Muzaffar said that while the government of Bashar Assad should exercise “maximum restraint”, the opposition Free Syrian Army should lay down its arms, especially in light of the fact that the government has implemented numerous reforms in recent years.
However, he said, the US has made such a scenario unlikely by facilitating a steady flow of arms to the Free Syrian Army.
“Instead of responding positively to some of the democratic changes introduced by the government, the US has been coordinating the supply of weapons to the opposition paid for by states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that attacks by opposition forces continued even after a ceasefire had been put in place on 12 April.
“They offer incontrovertible proof that certain governments in the West and in West Asia do not want the Peace Plan to succeed,” he said.
“Why are they hell-bent on wrecking the Peace Plan?” he asked. “They fear that if the Plan works, it would undermine their agenda which is regime change in Damascus.”
“For the proponents of regime change, the government has to be tarred and tarnished with whatever violence that occurs as a way of destroying its legitimacy and convincing both domestic and international public opinion that it should be ousted,” he said.
Dr Muzaffar cited several reasons for the desire for regime change, such as concerns in the US, UK and France over Syria’s connections to Iran and Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. This “triumvirate of resistance to Western hegemony” is a concern because of Syria’s troubled relationship with Israel. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both suspicious of Syria because of its Shi’a leadership in general and particularly its relationship with Iran. Then there is Turkey, which also casts a wary eye on Syria because of its relationship with an increasingly powerful Iran.
“What these regime change proponents who are all part of the Western hegemonic agenda are not prepared to acknowledge is that any attempt to oust Bashar Assad through external interference and military intervention will have horrendous consequences for almost every state in West Asia and beyond,” Dr Muzaffar said.
He added that the resulting civil war would be especially brutal because Bashar Assad does enjoy considerable support in Syria.
“It is significant that unlike the coterie around Gaddafi not a single major figure in government or the ruling party or the military or the diplomatic corps has deserted him in spite of a concerted 14 month push to dislodge him from power,” he said.
Dr Muzaffar said an all-out civil war in Syria would spill over into other countries in the region and drag them into a long and bloody conflict, which would eventually result in the involvement of major players like the US, Russia and China, France and the UK.
“This is why Kofi Annan has a monumental challenge before him,” he said.
“It is not enough to ask Bashar Assad to do more to curb violence. Appealing to armed groups to abide by the ceasefire of April 12 is only part of the solution.
“Annan should have the courage to demand that the Western powers and various regional players cease to aid and abet groups that resort to violence in Syria," Dr Muzaffar said.
"He should tell them in no uncertain terms that external political actors have no right to seek a regime change in Damascus. That is the prerogative of the people of Syria--- a prerogative that they should exercise through peaceful means.”