Syria and Saudi Arabia: tyranny versus tyranny

✚ Syria and Saudi Arabia: tyranny versus tyranny

Brian Whitaker:

In the debate on Syria at the UN General Assembly last week, Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian representative, hit back at Arab Gulf states which have lined up against the Assad regime, accusing them of dishonest motives. To quote the Syrian government news agency's report of his speech ...

"Al-Jaafari added that some of the countries that adopted the draft, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, cannot be considered as examples of democracy and respecting human rights, as these countries are governed by oligarchic, tyrannical regimes that don't hesitate to suppress their people and murder protesters, adding that the state of human rights and basic liberties in them is considered among the worst in the world according to documented reports by human rights organisations and opposition sources abroad."

Bearing in mind that Jaafari was himself speaking on behalf of an oligarchical, tyrannical regime – and one that has committed atrocities on a far greater scale that the regimes that he named – he did nevertheless make a valid point. 

The Arab Gulf states' hostility towards Assad is not based on a principled stance against dictatorship, and this creates an opening that the Assad regime can – and probably will – exploit. 

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.