AU rebuffs Syrian envoy

By Simon Allison 25 October 2011

Given the African Union’s track record of going very soft on tyrants and dictators, Syria expected to be welcomed with open arms. But the Syrian envoy left with nothing after being told to respect the will of his people. After a year of doing things wrong, maybe the AU has learnt its lesson. By SIMON ALLISON.

“Oh, to be a bad man in Africa,” Syrian President Bashar al Assad might have wistfully thought as he watched the AU cravenly resist all international pressure and refuse to condemn the regimes of Mubarak and Gaddafi. Assad is not getting such an easy ride from his own regional body, the League of Arab Nations. In a rare fit of conscience, it’s imposed strict timelines on Assad to reform his Syrian government which has cracked down so harshly on this year’s popular opposition, killing upwards of 3,000 people.

And he’s not getting such an easy ride from the United Nations either, which keeps trying to impose sanctions on his country, blocked only by the intransigence of Syria’s powerful allies – China and Russia – in the UN Security Council.

So to try to drum up a bit of international support, Bashar thought it might be a good idea to harness Africa’s softly-softly approach to vicious dictators, sending deputy foreign minister Fayssal Mikdad to Addis Ababa, with a mandate to explain Syria’s position and request AU endorsement at the UN. Mikdad explained to the African Union that Syria’s package of proposed reforms was acceptable to the masses and that Syria was a victim of a Western-orchestrated media-led smear campaign of lies and distortion. So reported the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, which is not itself unfamiliar with campaigns of lies and distortion.

But the AU, to its credit, was having none of this. Commissioner Jean Ping told Syria to implement genuine reforms and respect the will of its people if it wanted to preserve its stability. On his African expedition, Mikdad also stopped in Khartoum, where he received a more favourable response – the two countries share a remarkably similar persecution complex. DM

Read more:

  • Syria seeking Africa’s help to suppress resistance, in the Africa Review; and
  • Mikdad meets Sudanese FM, on DP News.

Photo: Reuters.


Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?

Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.

From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.

If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.


SONA2019: Ramaphosa uses his reply to answer internal critics over Eskom restructuring

By Marianne Merten