Human Rights Activist David Keyes: The Syrians will Remember their Enemies and Friends
|March 27, 2012|
The following article appeared in Arabic Sky News on March 16, 2012. To view the original interview in Arabic, click here:
In the last week of January 2011, the U.S. Secretary of State declared that the Egyptian government seemed stable. This pronouncement aroused the anger of human rights activist David Keyes. When asked his opinion by a journalist, he answered “Tell the Secretary of State she should stop talking about the Egyptian government´s ‘stability.’” A few days
For over a year, David Keyes, executive director of Advancing Human Rights, has followed every minute of the Arab Spring, writing articles for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic, giving interviews on Bloomberg, MSNBC and TheBBC, and bringing the flames of the Arabic streets to his meetings with the U.S. Department of State and Congressional hearings.
Arabic Sky News met David Keyes, who was occupied with the latest developments of the Syrian crisis, to discuss the American position with him.
Keyes:The American administration should be doing a lot more to support the Syrian people. Last year, the U.S. Secretary of State called Assad a "reformer." Thankfully, her tune has changed and now most Western countries say the time for reform is over. Advancing Human Rights recently briefed Secretary Clinton and the National Security Council on Syria and we brought the voices of democratic dissidents to policy-makers in the West so their message of hope will be heard.
Regarding internal politics, we asked David Keyes for his evaluation of U.S. politicians and 2012 presidential candidates’ position on Syria.
Keyes: There is some difference of opinion on Syria among the presidential candidates in the US. Most recognize that Assad cannot be redeemed or forgiven. He must go. The question is how to do it. War should be the last of all options, of course, but no amount of diplomacy at this point will bring democracy to Syria so long as the Baath dictatorship is in power. Most candidates are hesitant to get the US involved in another military intervention. They also believe that the Syrian people should be supported against their repressive regime.
I think the Syrian people can be helped if the world declares that Assad has no legitimacy to rule Syria. But the point is that he never had any legitimacy. You can't inherit legitimacy from your father. You must earn it by the respect and choice of the people. For years his regime has silenced opposition, imprisoned dissidents and blocked websites. The world should have acted then. Now, nearly 10,000 people are dead. It is a shame that world did not take a tougher stance against Assad's dictatorship earlier.
Before ending our conversation, we spoke bout the international community´s position on Syria, and asked what has to be done to support the Syrian people. Here, David Keyes expressed that he was sorry for all the blood that was shed and the time that has been lost.
Keyes:Winston Churchill said "The United States will always do the right thing when all other possibilities have been exhausted.” It is that way with Syria now today. The West was slow getting going, but now that the slaughter is so clear, America has largely come around. Nevertheless, much more work is to be done.
Of course, the real culprits after Syria itself are Iran, Russia and China who have covered up the regimes’ massacres. Greater diplomatic pressure must be put on Syria's few remaining allies to cease this irresponsible behavior.
Just yesterday, Russia's Deputy Defence Minister, Anatoly Antonov, said his government was happy to continue selling arms to Assad. Who will arm those who stand for freedom? Who will prevent Assad from committing an even greater massacre? Hoping the opposition succeeds is not enough. They need real, material support.
Ultimately, Assad will fall, I believe, and Syrians will long remember who were their friends and who were their enemies in their hour of need. It is just so unfortunate that it has taken so much bloodshed for the world to realize the true nature of Bashar Al Assad's dictatorship.