I previously wrote an article calling on the Arab League to broadcast its meetings and sessions on Syria live on television, regardless of whether these are closed or secret meetings. This is because the Arab public deserves to know the position of every Arab state on this issue…we want to know who supports Assad’s killing machine and who stands against this.
Last Thursday a meeting of Arab League Foreign Minister’s took place, and whatever was said about Syria in this meeting was said, however our problem – as a media – is that although some people may reveal to us what happened during the meeting, they are unwilling to do so on the record. This is a mistake and a shortcoming, for the issue is not one of political point-scoring, or one country against another, or even one minister against another; this is something that will affect the future of the region as a whole. Therefore, why shouldn’t Arab League meetings be broadcast live on air in order to allow the public to see the position of every Arab state? This will allow Arab public opinion to know who is siding with the tyrant in Syria, and who is standing against them. So when Iraq, for example, says that it wants to see an Arab solution [to the Syrian crisis], why does it not say this live on air in order to allow the Arab citizens to ask a legitimate question, namely: if the Arab League had waited to put forward an Arab solution with regards to Saddam Hussein, would the current Iraqi regime – and those faces representing it at the Arab League today – be in place?
If the Arab League sessions were broadcast live on air, Arab citizens would also be able to ask simple questions to the Algerian delegation, such as: you previously sided with Muammar Gaddafi, and now you are standing with Assad and his killing machine in Syria…so what’s your story? If the Arab League sessions were broadcast live on air Arab citizens would have heard the statements made by [Saudi Foreign Minister] Prince Saud al-Faisal, [Qatari Prime Minister] Hamad Bin Jassim, and [Arab League Secretary-General] Nabil El-Arabi in response to the positions taken by Algeria and Lebanon. This would allow Arab public opinion to be clear as to who is siding with the Syrian killing machine, and who is siding with the Syrian people.
The issue is not a sentimental one, as some believe, for we are facing a death toll of more than 4,000 Syrians at the hands of the Assad regime. Therefore, how can the Iraqis, and particularly the Kurds, for example, blame the Arabs for not intervening [in Iraq] when Saddam Hussein carried out the Halabja massacre, and then be contented with the position taken by their own foreign minister [on Syria]? How can the Algerians countenance the suffering of the Syrian people? Must Syria become the land of the million martyrs before [Algerian President] Bouteflika wakes up? Indeed, some media outlets have claimed that Bouteflika telephoned Assad to ask him not to be intransigent in the face of the Arab League decision…if only Bouteflika had asked his own minister not to be intransigent and inflexible from the outset!
Therefore, what is required from the Arab League today is for it to appear to us without any ambiguity, and broadcast its discussions live on air, particularly as we have had enough of the dishonesty and false courtesy. Therefore every country must shoulder its responsibilities. Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim and Mr. Nabil El-Arabi made the right decision not to hold a press conference [following the Arab League meeting], for why should Bin Jassim and Arabi bear the consequences of the decision made by those they confronted during the meeting, namely Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq? This is not to mention the telephone conversation that took place during the meeting during which Arabi confronted [Syrian Foreign Minister] Walid Muallem. If this Arab League ministerial meeting had been broadcast live on air we would know who stood with Assad’s killing machine, and who stands against it, and that would be the best for all concerned!
(Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. This article first appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat on Nov. 26, 2011)