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Tunisia: Decision to Expel Syrian Ambassador Sparks Heated Debate

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

On February 1, 2012, Tunisia, the birthplace of the so-called Arab Spring, has started procedures to expel the Syrian Ambassador in Tunis, and to withdraw recognition of the Syrian regime. That move followed the deadly assault launched on the city of Homs on Friday night, and which resulted in hundreds of deaths according to the Syrian National Council.

The Presidency of the Republic of Tunisia, said in an official statement published on its Facebook page [ar]:

تونس التي تدين إدانة مطلقة كل الجرائم التي يرتكبها النظام السوري في حق الشعب السوري الشقيق منذ أزيد من تسعة أشهر،.. معتقدة أن هذه المأساة لن تعرف طريقها إلى الحل إلا بتنحي نظام بشار الأسد عن الحكم في دمشق وفسح المجال لانتقال ديمقراطي للسلطة يحقق للشعب السوري الشقيق … كما تعلن تونس عن الشروع في الإجراءات العملية والترتيبية لطرد السفير السوري من تونس وسحب أي اعتراف بالنظام الحاكم في دمشق.
Tunisia, which has been condemning the the crimes committed by the Syrian regime in the right of the brotherly people of Syria for over nine months…believes that this tragedy will not end unless Bashar Al Assad's regime gives up power to pave the way for a democratic transition that ensures security for the brotherly Syrian people…Besides, Tunisia announces the launch of procedures for the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador in Tunisia and the withdrawal of all recognition of the regime in power in Damascus

Thank you Tunisia

"Hafedh (father of Bashar Al Assad): May your soul be cursed", written on the door of the Syrian embassy in Tunis. Photograph shared by Facebook page "Union Des Admins Des Pages Tunisiennes"

"Hafedh (father of Bashar Al Assad): May your soul be cursed", written on the door of the Syrian embassy in Tunis. Photograph shared by Facebook page "Union Des Admins Des Pages Tunisiennes"

Netizens from the Arab world, welcomed the step taken by Tunisia, and considered the move as “revolutionary.” Here are some reactions of Arab netizens on the micro blogging website Twitter.

From Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Ahlam Safi writes [ar]:

@iAhlamSafi: ولتونس علينا حقا.. أرض السابقين الأولين في الثورة.. أول دولة تسقط شرعية بشار وترفض الاعتراف بنظامه #ArabSpring #Tunisia #Syria #pray4syria

@iAhlamSafi: Tunisia has a right over us..the land of pioneers in the revolution..first state that drops the legitimacy of Bashar, and refuses to recognize his regime #ArabSpring #Tunisia #Syria #pray4syria

Algerian Melissa Rahmouni adds [fr]:

@MelissaRahmouni: Je suis heureuse du soutien de la #Tunisie au combat des syriens pour la #liberté. #syrie

@MelissaRahmouni: So glad about Tunisia's support to the battle of Syrians for freedom

From Kuwait, writer Saadiah Mufarreh tweets [ar]:

@saadiahmufarreh: للمرة الألف نرددها وراء محمود درويش خلال عام كامل: كيف نشفى من حب تونس؟.. أنا شخصيا لا أريد أن أشفى
@saadiahmufarreh: For a thousand times in one year, we say what (the poet) Mahmoud Darwish said before: “How can we be cured from Tunisia's love?”..Personally I do not want to get any cure

And Syrian citizen Geo thanks Tunisia on behalf of the Syrian people:

@CitizenGeo: From #Syria to #Tunisia Thanks for your humanity

Decision divides netizens

Back in Tunisia, the President's decision to break all ties with the Syrian regime, has divided netizens. Those who did not welcome the decision are worried about the safety of Tunisian expatriates in Syria.

@ElyssaDidon tweets [fr]:

@ElyssaDidon: La #tunisie aurait du rapatrier ses siens avant d'expulser l'ambassadeur syrien! #Syrie

@ElyssaDidon: Tunisia should have repatriated its expats before expelling the Syrian ambassador

She adds, in another tweet, defending her opinion:

@ElyssaDidon: J'appuie la decision d'expulser l'ambsdr 2 la #Syrie en #Tunisie msj'aurais préféré la prse 2mesures pr prtger les tunisiens sur plce d'abrd

@ElyssaDidon: I support the decision to expel the ambassador of Syria, but I would have preferred to see measures taken to protect Tunisians there, first.

Blogger and journalist Haythem El Mekki described the decision as “very brave, and very risky”. On his blog, he writes [ar]:

بشار الأسد (و ماهر خوه خاصة) سفاح دموي و يجب خلعه، لا شك في ذلك. حزب البعث نظام وحشي ظالم و يجب اسقاطه، هذا أكيد. الثورة السورية بدأها الشعب السوري الطامح إلى الحرية و القضاء على الإستبداد، و يجب مساندته في مطالبه، هذا واجب.

لكن في المقابل، يبدو جليا لكل مراقب يقظ أن ما يحصل الآن في سوريا من نزاعات مسلحة و التغطية الإعلامية الحافلة بالتهويل و الفبركة لقناتي الجزيرة و العربية (يعني قطر و السعودية) مع إحتضان تركيا و قطر (حلفاء أمريكا الإستراتيجيين في المنطقة، حاضنو قواعدها العسكرية) للمعارضة السورية، كل هذا يبرز أن سيناريو ليبيا بصدد التكرار، و أن الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية تواصل تشكيل خارطة الشرق الأوسط الجديد… يأتي قرار الحكومة التونسية المؤقتة بطرد السفير السوري في تونس و سحب الإعتراف بنظام بشار الأسد. قرار في غاية الجرأة و الخطورة، و يعكس موقفا شديد الوضوح في التموقع الجلي إلى جوار أحد أطراف الصراع ضد الطرف الآخر بصفة جذرية و نهائية، خاصة و أننا نكون بهذا أول بلاد في العالم تقوم بذلك.

Bashar Al Assad (and especially his brother Maher), is a bloody butcher and he should be ousted. There is no doubt about it. Al-Baath party, is a monstrous, and unjust system that should be taken down. This is certain. The Syrian revolution was launched by the Syrian people looking forward to freedom and an end to oppression. It is a duty to support Syrians in their demands.

But, on the other hand, it is obvious to every watchful observer that what is happening now in Syria from armed conflicts, and the over exaggerated, and fabricated media coverage of Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya channels (in other words Qatar and Saudi Arabia), with Turkey and Qatar (two strategic allies for the US which has military bases in these two countries), embracing the Syrian opposition, proves that the Libyan scenario is about to be repeated, and that the US continues forming the map of the new Middle East…The decision of the interim Tunisian government to expel the Syrian ambassador, and to withdraw recognition of Bashar Al Assad's regime, is a very brave and very risky decision, which reflects a very clear position in standing by the side of one part of the conflict, against the other part, in an extreme, and ultimate way, especially that we are the first country in the world to take such a step.

Linda Ben Osman believes that not only the Syrian ambassador, but all ambassadors whose countries committed massacres, and human rights violations need to be expelled. She says [fr]:

Si l'on vire l'ambassadeur syrien pour massacres commis par son pays, il me semble logique que l'on en vire d'autres, à commencer par ceux de tous les pays arabes, et plus spécialement le Qatar et l'Arabie Saoudite, non seulement pour abus commis par leurs pays à l'encontre de leurs peuples et des chiites plus spécifiquement, mais aussi à l'encontre des Bahreïnis aujourd'hui colonisés.

Que l'on vire, l'ambassadeur chinois, pour massacre des tibétains et l'ambassadeur américain, pour massacre des palestiniens, irakiens et afghans pour ne citer qu'eux, et pour torture et abus de pouvoir, et pour maltraitance et violences policières envers les manifestant d'Occupy, pour Guantanamo, et, et, et…

Virons l'ambassadeur français, pays dont le Ministre de l'Intérieur considère que toutes le civilisations ne se valent pas, et qui traite les immigrés illégaux comme des moins que rien.

Virons aussi l'ambassadeur russe pour massacre des tchétchènes…

If we expel the Syrian ambassador, because his country committed massacres, I think it is logical to expel others, starting from ambassadors of all the Arab countries, and more specifically Qatar, and Saudi Arabia,for committing abuses not only in their own countries, and against their own people, (more specifically) , Shiites, but also for abuses committed against Bahrainis, who are now colonized.

Let's expel the Chinese ambassador for massacring Tibetans, and the American ambassador for massacring Palestinians, Iraqis, and Afghanis, for torture, abuse of power, and for mistreating Occupy protesters, and for Guantanamo…

Let's also fire the Russian ambassador for massacring Chechnyans…

She adds:

nous, tunisiens révolutionnaires, voulons soutenir tous les peuples lésés par leurs gouverneurs, et si virer les ambassadeurs est la solution adéquate pour montrer notre solidarité , alors soit, virons-les tous!

We, revolutionary Tunisians, would like to support people abandoned by their governors, and if firing ambassadors is an adequate solution to show our support, so let's fire them all

On Twitter, @tounsiahourra strongly supports the President's decision. She tweets [ar]:

@tounsiahourra: شكرا للمرزوقي ,,أقول لك شكرا كما تعودت أن أنتقدك ,صدقا موقفك مشرف لنا كتونسيين ; شكرا لانك لم تتنكر لنضالك في حقوق الانسان #SYRIA #MM
@tounsiahourra: Thank you Marzouki! I'm thanking you just as I used to criticize you, truly, your position is honorable for us as Tunisians, thank you because you did not forget about your struggle for human rights

She adds in another tweet [ar]:

@tounsiahourra: أن أنقد الاسلاميين المرزوقي والتحالفات التي لا نعرف إلى أين تصب هذا أمر ,وأن نقول كلمة حق في قرار شجاع ينتظره اخوتنا في سوريا هذا أمر آخر.
@tounsiahourra: Criticising the Islamists, Marzouki and the government coalitions that we do not know where it is going is one issue, and speaking a word of truth about a brave decision anticipated by our brothers in Syria is something else.

And @The_Fan concludes [fr]:

@The_Fan: Je ne comprends pas l'attaque sur la decision diplomatique de la #tunisie, on est quand meme avec la revolution syrienne #syrie non ?

@The_Fan: I don't understand the attacks on the diplomatic decision of Tunisia. We do support the Syrian revolution, don't we?

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

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