We Welcomed Abu Dhabi Before Assad Did

Hazem El Amin
Lebanese Writer and Journalist
March 20, 2022
The "Anti-Israeli Resistance" was never born out of a just cause or a lack of justice. Its members will applaud Bashar al-Assad wherever he goes, starting with his sending volunteers to Russia and ending with his visit to Abu Dhabi. The Abraham Accords do not pose any problems to them when the Emirates are on their side in their wars against their peoples, and their relationship with Vladimir Putin is a good example of this.

Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates disappointed Syrian activists, with the phrase “disappointment” here often accompanied by the phrase “hope,” meaning that the disappointment had arrived in the form of “crushed hope”. From here we must re-evaluate our hopes, because the visit was nothing more than ordinary, and would have constituted a logical extension of the nature of the two regimes in Damascus and Abu Dhabi.

Activists who had been disappointed by the visit, including friends, were mostly coming from experience in confronting the regime in the first years of the Syrian revolution, then also in the years afterwards, when the revolution turned into a war. Their disappointment was evident, even though when the regime had succeeded in its efforts of turning the revolution into war, the UAE, and other countries that “embraced” the revolution, had met the regime halfway in these efforts.

For these countries are Bashar al-Assad’s partners in crime, and it was indeed very logical for him to visit them. We should think about this scene of him in Abu Dhabi simply with its power to help us recall and reminisce on our experiences with this whole era.

Hazem Al-Amin

When the regime released the Islamists from its prisons, the UAE, and other countries, took over providing them with arms! The effort was a joint one, and his visit was simply a culmination of this effort, with Assad desiring to express his gratitude for the favor. Arming and financing the Islamists in the countryside of Damascus, which was taken over by the Gulf states after the prisoner release that freed their leaders, was a clear indication of the model that those countries wanted for Syria after Assad.

In fact, the visit was truly an occasion for a harsh review of those of us who did not possess the awareness at the time, which would have protected us from falling into the trap of the relations established by our revolution with the regimes of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh, leading to the relationships established with Ankara and Amman, and other capitals whose arms we ran into during these years of the revolution and war. This avoidance may not have made us circumvent defeat, but it would have at least spared us the disappointment that befalls us today.

Let us extrapolate our imagination a little, for it alone can support us during these dark days. What kind of Syria would have been formed if the revolution had won under Emirati or Turkish sponsorship?

Most likely, we would have been faced with an authority that would’ve been no less discriminatory, and a regime that would have practiced its majority in the same way that the Baath regime would practice its minority. The majority would not be less bloody than the minority of the current regime, and as it will derive its “legitimacy” from the representation of the majority, and will then employ this legitimacy by discriminating against the minorities.

The visit was truly an occasion for a harsh review of those of us who did not possess the awareness at the time, which would have protected us from falling into the trap of the relations established by our revolution with the regimes of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh, leading to the relationships established with Ankara and Amman, and other capitals whose arms we ran into during these years of the revolution and war. This avoidance may not have made us circumvent defeat, but it would have at least spared us the disappointment that befalls us today.

Hazem Al-Amin

For these countries are Bashar al-Assad’s partners in crime, and it was indeed very logical for him to visit them. We should think about this scene of him in Abu Dhabi simply with its power to help us recall and reminisce on our experiences with this whole era.

I say this even though, I, who writes these lines, responded once to an invitation to discuss the Syrian revolution in one of the Gulf capitals!

How could I have been so foolish? What revolution could be discussed in a city whose regime abhors revolutions? I should have realized that I had offended the Syrians at that time. This is not mere self-hate, but rather a weak attempt to evade defeat, to say that this visit should not be taken as the end, and that the road, even if its long and hard, starts from here. In honesty, the situation was catastrophic both before and after this visit. Finding ourselves again in this battle may be the solution, although this is going to require a harsh but worthwhile revision of our actions.

Arguing that confronting the regime would not have been possible if we were alone may be true, but ultimately actions are evaluated by their conclusions, and perhaps being defeated while we stood alone would have been more honorable, and not accompanied by disappointments of the kind that afflict us today as a result of Assad’s visit to Abu Dhabi.

As for the arguments coming from those who had opposed the fact that their partner in Damascus was visiting the state of the “Abraham Accords,” those who are anti-Israel, here they were, applauding this breach of trust, given that the visit may help with the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime. And yet somehow the reason for our disappointment today is that the country had welcomed him, and not that we had welcomed it before him?

The “Anti-Israeli Resistance” was never born out of a just cause or a lack of justice. Its members will applaud Bashar al-Assad wherever he goes, starting with his sending volunteers to Russia and ending with his visit to Abu Dhabi. The Abraham Accords do not pose any problems to them when the Emirates are on their side in their wars against their peoples, and their relationship with Vladimir Putin is a good example of this.

We will lose this debate with them if we assume that they are truly concerned with Palestine’s cause. We must confront them, in holding ourselves accountable for a mistake we have committed, and we must prepare ourselves to spend years of being “defeated” to avoid its recurrence. As we know, life comes in vicissitudes, at times in your favor and in others against you.

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