Brotherly Arab dictators

"At one point during Friday's meeting, the Saudi foreign ministerreportedly stormed out, self-righteously complaining about "inaction" (though some reports deny it). Later, asked if arming the Syrian opposition would be a good idea, he replied: "I think it's an excellent idea." Indeed, some suspect the Saudis are already doing just that.  Meanwhile Qatar, a less oppressive autocracy than Saudi Arabia but an autocracy nevertheless, called for the creation of "an Arab force" for Syria.  None of that bodes well for Syria's future. The Saudis, who have banned all forms of demonstrations on their own turf and are not averse toshooting protesters, have deliberately messed up two Arab revolutions over the past year – first by sending troops into Bahrain to preserve the monarchy there, and then by manipulating the Yemeni uprising to ensure that nothing much would change after they abandoned President Saleh.
Given that, there was a curious irony to the banners hung around the conference area in Tunis on Friday. The English "Friends of Syria" had been changed in Arabic to say "Friends of the Syrian people" – as if to emphasise that they had the interests of ordinary Syrians uppermost in their hearts.  The reality, of course, is that for all countries attending, national interests (or what they perceive as their national interests) come first and the Syrian people second. In some cases a distant second, even among the "brotherly" Arabs."

Posted on February 29, 2012 by As'ad