The First Liberated Warplane In Syria: The Moment Of Truth Has Arrived, And Jordan Taking The Simple Step

02 July 2012

By Mshari al-Zaydi

The best response to the Russian state, and its army, participating in the crimes of the Bashar al-Assad regime is for a Syrian Air Force pilot to defect from the al-Assad regime, along with his Russian-made MiG fighter jet. This MiG fighter jet is from the same arsenal that that Russia is providing al-Assad.

Yesterday, Jordan announced that it had granted political asylum to the Syrian pilot who defected from the al-Assad regime, landing at a Jordanian Air Force base in al-Mafraq, "at his own request".

Syrian state television reported that Colonel Hassan al-Mirei Hamadeh was flying his warplane in southern Syria, however communication with him cut-off. Syrian state media acknowledged that the pilot had defected and described him as a traitor.

The Russians continues to supply the al-Assad regime, and this supply is escalating and becoming more overt, with the al-Assad regime being supplied with helicopters and different forms of arms. All of these arms are being utilized against unarmed Syrian citizens across the country, from Homs to Hama; from Idlib in the north to Deraa in the south to Deir Ezzor in the east. And after all this, we hear "Mullah" Lavrov lecture us about a peaceful solution and non-intervention in Syria!

Jordan did the right thing by providing asylum to this pilot who has defected from the al-Assad gang and his killing machine, and this act is much better than the empty talk and wishful thinking that the entire world has preoccupied itself with over the past 15 months with regards to attempting to convince the al-Assad regime to stop the killing.

On the one hand, we see an escalation in diplomatic efforts, whilst on the other we see the Iranian Quds Force and Hezbollah brigades providing the al-Assad regime with all forms of material and military assistance, not to mention media support. In addition to this, the coffers of the Russian military have been opened to al-Assad, and Moscow is supplying al-Assad via Syria's Tartus port, and so even the Russian navy has moved to support al-Assad the killer! Therefore after all of this, how can we talk about a peaceful solution, and the necessity of western states not arming the Syrian opposition, which is what Mullah Lavrov has arrogantly and provocatively stated on a number of occasions?

The Syrian regime's brutality is expected to increase following this defection, and perhaps it will carry out retaliatory action against Jordan, and perhaps even Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However it is important to know that the cost of hosting and arming the opposition is far less than leaving it to chaos and improvisation. In addition to this, the support for the al-Assad regime being provided by Russia and Iran is costing them more than it is costing the Arab states – and perhaps some Western states as well - to support the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army [FSA].

Let me be frank, we must do everything that we can to embrace and arm the Syrian opposition, and direct its course, in order to guarantee that it does not incline towards any specific political ideology, whether left-wing or right-wing. This is what would happen if we left the Syrian opposition to direct its own course.

The moment of truth has arrived, and Jordan taking the simple step of granting this Syrian defector political asylum – in comparison with Russia and Iran's support for al-Assad – will have a huge impact in weakening the morale of the al-Assad army, and encourage defections and even coup. Therefore this one action has been better than the dozens of noble Arab speeches or statements issued by the EU or White House.

First look at the situation on the ground, and then speak…this is what our rivals are doing, so we must do as they do.

A Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as well as Saudi affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat's opinion page Editor, where he also contributes a weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press occupying several posts at Al -Madina newspaper amongst others. He has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.


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