Arab allies of US exasperated by Western stance on Syria

Saudi Foreign Minister: World should prevent aggression against Syrian people; we stand by the will of the Syrian people.

Bashar Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/
Bashar Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/
Middle East supporters of the Sunni-dominated rebel forces led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are exasperated with the hesitation of Western countries but are holding out in expectation that attacks will eventually occur. On the other side, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are gloating over the perceived failure and weakness of Britain and the US as well as the delay in plans to attack.
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it was time for the world to do everything it could to prevent aggression against the Syrian people, and that it would back a US strike on Syria if the Syrian people did.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal made his comments as the United States prepares strikes against the Syrian government, blaming it for a chemical gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians.
“We call upon the international community with all its power to stop this aggression against the Syrian people,” Faisal said in Cairo, where he was attending a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers to discuss Syria.
On the prospect of a US strike, he said: “We stand by the will of the Syrian people. They know best their interests, so whatever they accept, we accept, and whatever they refuse, we refuse.”
Representing Saudi opinion, Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, writing in the Saudi Arab News on Sunday, urged the international community to act against Syrian President Bashar Assad: “But is it really true that there is nothing else that can be done? Are we really that paralyzed? Or could the international community act, legitimately and legally, to protect civilians in Syria…”
Aluwaisheg went on to say that the example of the West’s intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s should be used as a model for an operation in Syria. The idea behind the intervention, which he says is relevant today is that “state sovereignty is not absolute, but conditioned by other norms and principles.”
International law forbids war crimes and the Syrian regime’s “Ghouta massacre” fits perfectly into what the law is meant to prevent. Hence, action should be taken immediately and consent from the UN Security Council is not required, he said.
Tariq Alhomayed, writing in the Saudi backed popular London based daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday, responded that Iran is the real issue, with its efforts to take advantage of international divisions and weakness: “Therefore, we can be certain that Iran has absorbed the British message – namely that the international community is divided, and is not serious about dealing with vital issues, including the use of chemical weapons in Syria, not to mention the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the Assad regime.”
He went on to say that Washington “is making these costly foreign policy fumbles” and Obama’s statements “are likely to lead to disasters today, and these could engulf the entire region tomorrow.”
In an unexpected comment, an Iranian news agency quoted former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying Syria’s government had attacked its own people with chemical weapons, but later replaced the report with a different version that did not attribute blame for the raid.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani seemed to set the record straight on Sunday, saying that world opinion stood against any international attack on its ally Syria, pointing to the British parliament’s rejection of military action.
Iran has said the poison gas attack on civilians was carried out by rebels trying to oust Assad, not by Assad’s government.
Another Iranian legislator, Abdolreza Azizi, in a speech on Sunday warned against the intervention of “international deceivers.”
“Iranians, Muslims, and freedom- seekers of the world are standing for their belief in peace in the region and they will not compromise on that, let alone tolerate an attack on another Muslim country like Syria which is at the forefront of the resistance,” Azizi said, according to parliamentary news agency Icana.
“The Americans don’t see the wave of hatred of people against their warmongering policies and continue to pursue military actions against Syria, even though these actions have been thwarted in the UN Security Council and the British parliament has stated its opposition to military activity,” Larijani said, according to the ISNA news agency.
Iran’s ally Assad said on Sunday Syria was capable of confronting any external aggression and that threats of a US strike would not discourage the country from a fight against what it described as “terrorism.”
In his first comments since Obama’s speech, Assad said: “Syria... is capable of confronting any external aggression,” state television quoted him as saying during a meeting with Iranian officials.
“The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America.”
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on Sunday Obama’s speech showed hesitation and confusion.
“It is clear there was a sense of hesitation and disappointment in what was said by President Barack Obama yesterday. And it is also clear there was a sense of confusion as well,” he told reporters in Damascus.
An editorial in al-Thawra newspaper, Syria’s official daily, also criticized Obama’s move to go to Congress.
“Obama announced yesterday, directly or through implication, the beginning of the historic American retreat,” said the comments, which were carried in a front-page editorial in al-Thawra.
Meanwhile, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari called on the UN secretary-general to prevent any attack on Syria, according to the text of letters sent to the UN and  quoted by SANA, Syria’s state news agency.