By Said Temsamani
IndepthAfrica – On the eve of the upcoming meeting of “Friends of Syria” that Morocco will hold in Marrakesh, the Moroccan government has started taking concrete measures to give a powerful signal to the current Syrian regime that the humanitarian situation in that country cannot be tolerated anymore. On July 16, Morocco ordered the Syrian ambassador to leave the kingdom and called for an immediate transition to democracy in Syria. The Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Minister Youssef Amrani was dispatched to Washington and then to Paris to coordinate with the American and French decison makers of the next diplomatic steps to be taken to force the Syrian regime to yield to the will of its people and to stop the bloodbath in Syria.
Rabat’s move followed the defection of Syria’s ambassador to Iraq and the flight the week before of a prominent general once close to Assad and very recently his Prime Minister – developments that Western officials said showed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was losing his grip on power as the rebellion against him drags on.
Last week rumors circulated that the ambassador to Rabat, Nabih Ismail, had also defected to the rebel side. A Syrian embassy official denied this but had no further comment.
Morocco wishes for “an efficient and resolute action to ensure a political transition towards a democratic setup that guarantees Syria’s unity, stability and regional safety to achieve the brotherly Syrian people’s aspirations for dignity, freedom and development.
Morocco had already recalled its ambassador Ikhssasi in November 2011, and the Moroccan’s decision to kick out the Syrian ambassador was the latest in a series of diplomatic expulsions that have increased Assad’s international isolation as Syrian rebels gain strength.
In May, the United States, France, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Bulgaria and Switzerland all turfed out Syrian diplomats in response to a massacre of 108 people in the town of Houla in May. Japan followed suit.
Morocco’s North African neighbors Tunisia and Libya, which saw their own dictators swept away in last year’s Arab Spring uprisings, expelled Syrian diplomats as well.
Morocco, however, wanted to go further and did not want to limit its actions only to diplomacy but towards humanitarian aid to rescue the Syrian refugees at the Jordanian-Syrian borders. On August 5, HM the King ordered an immdeiate humanitarian assistance to express to the Jordanians Morocco’s full solidarity with Jordan which is facing, for months now, a huge flow of Syrian refugees fleeing growing violence in their country. In fact, several planes flew to Amman full of food, water, tents, medical suplies… and notably a large medical team composed of military specialist doctors to present medical assistance to the Syrian refugees. Through this gesture, King Mohammed wanted to set an example to other Arab leaders in the region and to remind them of the scope and seriousness of the humanitarian crisis in Syria since the outbreak of hostilities, leaving 20,000 dead and forcing hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, including women and children, to leave their houses and take refuge, with no resources, in neigbouring countries, including Jordan.
Given the escalation of violence, the number of these refugees is growing steadily and their moral and material situation is extremely alarming. No less than 41,216 Syrian refugees have benefited from the services provided by the medical-surgical field hospital set up by the Royal Armed Forces at the Zaatari camp, located in the governorate of Mafraq, Jordan. In total, 60, 542 benefits have been provided by the Moroccan medical staff, including, among others, consultations and care, surgeries, births, as well as the distribution of medicine. Notably, children 21, 168) have been the primary recipients of such care.
Hopefully, other Arab leaders, will follow King Mohammed’s initiative and act quickly to assist their Syrian brothers and sisters who have been living under unbearable conditions for more than a year.
Enough of rhetoric and empty speeches of condemnation and denunciation of the Syrian regime, it is time for action to allow the democratic winds of the Arab Spring to blow in the region.
Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political analyst who follows events in his country and North Africa