Does Paying Attention To Egypt Mean Ignoring Syria?
25 August 2013
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
In the first two weeks of Ramadan, 1,262 Syrians were
killed. The news did not make headlines and people
were not agitated. This makes us wonder if what's
happening in Cairo has killed the Syrian revolution or
if the latter is fading into the background, similar
to what happened in Iraq, with explosions killing
hundreds every day becoming normal.
There is no doubt that the Syrian revolution is being
ignored—not because people care less, but because of
recent events in Egypt. Around a hundred people were
killed in Egypt during the first two weeks of Ramadan.
There are fears that Egypt is on a path that might not
end for months, despite attempts at political
reconciliation and calls for early legitimate
elections. This negative development will place Syria
in the shadows, diverting the concern of its
neighbors, and will grant Bashar Al-Assad and his
allies—the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah—the
opportunity to commit more genocidal crimes in the
shadows, perhaps even crimes worse than what has been
witnessed in the past two years.
We should not compare the causes of the Syrian rebels
and the Egyptian people, or label one more important
than the other. We should also avoid measuring the
importance of each according to the number of
casualties, because blood and chaos are outcomes of
deep rifts that have existed for decades and not just
a few months or years.
Syria is not Egypt. Assad's regime exploited the
world's attention on the bloody events in Egypt to
draw a false comparison, claiming that terrorists in
Syria are like terrorists in Egypt, and that the
legitimacy of the Syrian regime is equal to that of
the Egyptian one.
The truth is there is a huge difference between the
two. No one can deny that some Egyptians believe the
current Egyptian opposition—the Muslim
Brotherhood—have both a cause and popular support.
Those who reject the Brotherhood also have a different
cause and different supporters. Egypt is facing a
political struggle, while Syria faces a struggle
against a despised criminal regime that has
deliberately committed murders on a daily basis and on
an unprecedented scale.
But Assad, along with his propaganda, can exploit the
situation in Egypt for his own benefit, and claim to
be a partner of the Egyptian regime in the course of
its ordeal. He did this before, when he claimed that
both his and Egypt's regimes are being targeted by
foreign conspiracies. This propaganda is losing its
value as the Egyptian government distances itself from
Assad's regime, and it is expected that Egypt will
play a significant role in confronting the regime in
Egypt will stand up to Damascus. While he was in
power, Mohamed Mursi and his cabinet avoided the
Syrian issue on purpose. It was only addressed on a
few occasions, during visits to Tehran and Moscow
where Mursi adopted a public stance in support of the
Assad regime. Later on, however, during a conference
of religious groups held during the last month of his
presidency, he decided to cut ties with Damascus. The
interim government that replaced Mursi did the same.
It also took specific measures against Syrian refugees
in fear of hostile groups sneaking into the country
amid political turmoil in Egypt. It then adopted a
stance in support of the Syrian revolution by
accepting the new chief of the Syrian Coalition, Ahmad
Al-Garba, and announcing its solidarity with the
Egypt will play an important role in the Syrian
revolution, especially since the Egyptian army
considers its role a regional one. The institution of
the military is an important pillar in regional
relations, beyond being the force that defends the
country. It must not be forgotten that Egypt has
played the role of military and political
counterweight to Iran and Assad's regime for the past
thirty years. If it becomes too preoccupied with its
domestic battle to strengthen the system and protect
its security, naturally it will not be able to get
involved in the struggle against Iran and the Assad
regime. This struggle, however, may later on require a
regional military confrontation.
Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya
television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of
Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in
the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is
a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He
has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs.
He is currently based in Dubai.