by our Arab Affairs correpondent
SYRIAN troops have now crushed all pockets of Muslim Brotherhood resistance in the city of Homs, amid reports that France and Turkey have secretly agreed to halt their support for the rebels in return for the release of their military advisers, held by the Syrian army. Remnants of the “Free Syrian Army” militia in Homs have fled to Lebanon.
But fighting continues in other parts of the country as the Syrian army pursues armed rebels ahead of a peace mission by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to Damascus.
The Syrian government has said it will co-operate with the visit of UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos, who is seeking access to districts that have been battered in the army crack-down. She made a brief visit to the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs accompanied by Syrian Red Crescent officials on Wednesday. Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem told Amos that his government was attempting to provide food and medical assistance to those in need, despite “the burden it faces as a result of unfair sanctions imposed by some Western and Arab countries which are affecting the population”. He underlined Syria’s commitment “to cooperate with the delegation within the framework of the respect, sovereignty and independence of Syria and in coordination with the foreign ministry”.
In Moscow Syria’s ally, Iran, held talks with the Russian leadership, which underlined the common stance of Iran and Russia on the Middle East. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov, re-affirmed both sides’ support for the continuation of the government- sponsored reforms in Syria.
After the meeting, Amir-Abdollahian told reporters that Iran and Russia’s viewpoints on the Middle East were very close. Amir-Abdollahian said that foreign interference against the Syrian government was doomed to failure and that both Iran and Russia believed that any kind of sanction against Syria was unacceptable. The Iranian minister dismissed last month’s “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunisia saying it was the last effort of the West-Arab axis and that it had achieved nothing.
The imperialist-sponsored conference at the Palace Hotel in Tunis was condemned by the Syria government, which called the gathering, the “Enemies of Syria” conference.
While it was meeting several hundred supporters of the Assad government attempted to storm the building, forcing US foreign minister Hillary Clinton to return to her own hotel and delaying her appearance at the meeting.
Back in Beirut an Aljazeera journalist has resigned in protest at global TV network’s biased and provocative reporting of the crisis in Syria.
Ali Hashem told the Lebanese media that he walked out because Aljazeera’s reports on Syria were based on fabrications and lies. He’s not the first to leave in protest at the bias of the Arab news and current affairs TV channel that is owned by the feudal Arab Gulf state of Qatar. In April last year Ghassan bin Jeddo, the Head of Aljazeera office in Beirut, resigned accusing the Qatari channel of changing into a propaganda station to mobilise Arab and international opinion in support the reactionary Muslim forces trying to overthrow the Syrian government.
Qatar and Aljazeera played a major part in the imperialist onslaught against the Gaddafi government in Libya. Qatari military advisers worked with Nato commandos to help the Islamic militias seize power in Libya while Aljazeera pumped out anti-Gaddafi propaganda on a daily basis.
Qatar, in tandem with Saudi Arabia, has led the Arab League drive to isolate the government of Bashar al Assad. In January the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, made an open call for feudal Arab support for the Syrian rebels when he called for the despatch of Arab troops “to end the killing” in Syria.