Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Syrian Honorary Consul Finally Resigns

Hazem Chehabi, the Syrian honorary consul in Orange County and Chair of the UC Irvine Foundation has finally resign his former position. Chehabi, who has been the subject of several critical posts here and the subject of numerous student protests at UCI going back to last year, gave as his reason, the recent slaughter in Houla, Syria.

I think a couple of comments are in order. First, I doubt if "defect" is the proper word. Chehabi is an American citizen. As such, his position with the Syrian government was "honorary", a position filled by local residents when a country does not have the resources to establish consulates throughout a country as big as the US. Thus, I would also not describe him as one of Syria's highest-ranking diplomats in the US.

Second, while Chehabi's resignation is welcome and the right thing to do, it comes much later than it should have. Was it the slaughter in Houla that was the tipping point? Why not the slaughters in other towns going back to last year? This has been going on for over a year now.

For many months now, protesters have been saying that Chehabi had to choose between one of his positions. His continued presence with the UCI Foundation was becoming a bigger embarrassment for the university as the deaths in Syria continued to mount. I can only speculate as to whether the university pushed him to make his decision.

At any rate, it is a welcome decision, belated as it is.


Anonymous said...

hat tip to msu students

Gary Fouse said...

The Muslim Student Union was among many calling for Chehabi to resign either from his post as Syrian Honorary Consul or from the MSI Foundation. On this issue, we were on the same side of the fence.