A Syrian rebel commander criticized the Russian plan for Syria to surrender its
chemical weapons to avoid a US-led attack, calling it a “dirty deal.”
plan “would serve Israel, not the Syrian people,” Col. Abdel-Jabbar
al-Oqaidi, a commander in the Free Syrian Army, said in an interview with
Al-Arabiya TV on Tuesday.
The rebels are upset that the world only began
to mobilize for action after chemical weapons were used, and not because an
estimated 100,000 were killed in the civil war, overwhelmingly by conventional
“All of this shouting in the international community is because
of the chemical weapons and not because of Assad’s atrocities against his people
using tanks and rocket launchers,” Oqaidi said. He rejected any political
solution before President Bashar Assad leaves power.
In a sign of rising
frustration within the opposition, Oqaidi complained that its political
leadership was not coordinating with the military rebel leadership in the
country. The political leaders “represent the countries that nominated them, not
the Syrian people,” he said.
The rebel Syrian National Coalition decried
a “political maneuver which will lead to pointless procrastination and will
cause more death and destruction to the people of Syria.”
warplanes bombed rebellious districts inside the Damascus city limits on Tuesday
for the first time since the poison gas attacks. Rebels said the strikes
demonstrated that the government had concluded the West had lost its
“By sending the planes back, the regime is sending the message
that it no longer feels international pressure,” activist Wasim al-Ahmad said
from Mouadamiya, one of the districts of the capital hit by the chemical attack
The Russian proposal “is a cheap trick to buy time for the
regime to kill more and more people,” said Sami, a member of the local
opposition coordinating committee in the Damascus suburb of Erbin, also hit by
the poison gas attack.
Damascenes in pro-Assad areas, however, were
grateful for a reprieve from Western strikes: “Russia is the voice of reason.
They know that if a strike went ahead against Syria, then World War III – even
Armageddon – would befall Europe and America,” said Salwa, a Shi’ite in the
affluent Malki district.
Meanwhile, the Arab League held an urgent
meeting on Wednesday over the Russian proposal. Arab League Secretary- General
Nabil Elaraby said the proposal should be considered seriously, adding: “There
is no military solution for the crisis in Syria.”
The Arab Gulf States
pushed for the meeting even though there is hesitancy to support the attack from
some Arab states such as Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq.
the Saudi backed Al-Arabiya website, Theodore Karasik said that despite
diplomatic efforts, there are ongoing preparations to assemble a coalition of
Arab League member states and the US, ahead of a possible attack on the Assad
regime. The US might be able to count on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to
provide support for air operations over Syria, he said.
out that Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Salman bin Sultan has been spending time
with US Central Command forces in Jordan, “most likely coordinating and making
tactical plans for the near future.”
“From the Gulf point of view,
America needs to show that at this critical juncture in the Syrian maelstrom,
Washington is still a reliable ally to key Arab League members,” he said,
hinting that an attack on Syria would solidify the relationship with Gulf
The Gulf News ran an editorial on Tuesday saying an attack is
still in the cards if Assad fails to follow through on the Russian
Other Sunni Gulf media outlets vented their frustration at the
delay and diplomatic dance. Tariq Alhomayed, writing in Asharq al-Awsat, said
that “what we are facing is nothing more than American, and international,
weakness in the region; the Russians have taught the Americans – and
particularly President Obama – an unforgettable lesson.”
process will simply buy time and allow the Assad regime to continue “committing
crimes,” Alhomayed wrote.
This “trick” by Assad to announce his agreement
to hand over his chemical weapons “demonstrates that the security of the entire
region is in danger as a result of Obama’s weakness...,” he said.
failure to achieve a real political solution could mean that the Arabs would
accept Russia as a new regional superpower, Alhomayed said.
Atwan, former editor-in-chief of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi London-based pan- Arab
daily, said on Al-Manar TV on Tuesday that the loss of Syrian chemical weapons
would be a loss for the entire Arab nation, according to a transcript by MEMRI
(the Middle East Media Research Institute).
“The loss of the Syrian
chemical weapons will be a loss to the entire Arab nation, because these weapons
are the poor man’s nuclear bomb. These weapons create some, if not complete,
deterrence vis-à-vis Israel, which possesses a huge chemical and nuclear
arsenal,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.