Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To Joshua Landis

Dear Joshua:

I am writing to express my unhappiness with Syria Comment. Since we established our group the Syrian Democratic Forum/Platform last February, the only news that was published on SC regarding our group was under the title “Two different Syrian Opposition organizations expressed their own formulations of the Kurdish question in Syria”. Although our vision of Syria as a multi-national state, from which our group’s view for the question Kurd arises, is an original one, I believe this is not the most significant contribution of our group to the political and civil life in Syria.

First, the idea of our group is a creative one. Indeed, our group is not a political organization per se. It is “a political, civil and democratic forum. It is a platform for critical appraisal, knowledge exchange and field activities”, as it has been defined in its identity statement released on Feb 18, 2012. Our group’s mission is the advancement of the Syrian society and public life at all levels, including political, intellectual and social.
Second, the plan of actions that we have set for our group is an audacious one. One of the major goals that we have set for our group is to unify the infamously fragmented Syrian opposition, as it has been stated in The Declaration of the Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Syrian Democratic Forum, released on April 17th, 2012. In this declaration, our goal to unify the opposition has been expressed as follows: “Indeed, the SDF perceives that one of its tasks is to launch a plan to unite the Syrian opposition of all spectra, accompanied by mechanisms and timetable for its implementation, through the formation of internal and external committees for cooperation and consultation. These plan and mechanisms are to be put into effect as soon as possible; with the reaffirmation that what is meant by unity of the opposition is to have a common vision, program, and political will; and taking into account that the basis for the indispensable unity of the opposition is the unity of purpose. By this purpose, we mean bringing the regime down; building a democratic civil state based on equal citizenship; clearly specifying the path leading to the future of Syria after the fall of the regime; and providing a clear vision for the new Syria. In this regard, it is the responsibility of the committee elected by the General Assembly to put this into practice.”

For all the reason mentioned-above, I invite Syria Comment to cover more actively the activities of the group. Please find attached our group’s “Identity Statement”, “Statement of Principles” and “The Declaration of the Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Syrian Democratic Forum”, and a video that represent an interview conducted with me by the Egyptian satellite TV channel, Nile TV, in which I explain our plans to unify the opposition.

Best regards

Haytham

P.S. This was an e-mail sent to Joshua Landis on May 6, 2012.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Immaturity as an origin of evil: Bashar al-Assad as a case study


In my answer to the National Initiative for Change in Syria, which was based on the premise that Bashar would resign shortly after the start of the demonstrations, I explained to the signatories that Bashar would not resign easily and the war with the regime would take many months. I based my judgement on my personal assessment of the real situation in Syria and also on my personal knowledge of Bashar’s personality, which is mainly characterized by his immaturity.  The question that many may ask is “how psychological immaturity can lead a person to lose his or her own conscience, committing crimes and consequently destroying himself and many people around him?”.

One important characteristic of mature people is that they can understand and deal with complex social realities. These complexities arise mainly from the deepness of human psyche and the complexity of human relationships. Thus, mature people can understand and fulfill their own real needs, which are necessary for them to grow and flourish, and other people’s real needs, which are important for these people to fulfill their own potentials.

Also, mature people have good understanding for the laws that govern human relationships and interactions, thus they lead life events to the best outcome for the people around them and for themselves. Consequently, they learn how to be decisive and acquire the sense of empowerment. Indeed, as human beings we develop these faculties in the laboratory of life starting from early days of our lives. If for any reason we do not live an active life characterized by rich experiences that we can learn from, we can’t acquire these potentials. Further, all these capacities define, indeed, our conscience. Thus, they make us able to recognize benevolent from malevolent acts or, in other words, distinguish good from evil. Therefore, mature people are characterized by developed conscience, while immature people lack this precious faculty.

I knew Bashar when I was at medical school. At that time, Bashar appeared nice and modest. Further, he looked happy or rather he had the habit of joking all the time. This character provided people around him a sense of comfort. That was because they did not have to be formal, although they were in the presence of the president’s son. On the other hand, when I now look back at his behavior with an inquiring mind, I can see the early signs of his immaturity. Indeed, his relationships with people were superficial; he had a lot of people around him, but none of them was close friend. However, he needed real relationships in order to learn about his own self and about human beings around him or, in other word, to mature and grow psychologically. Further, his jokes were some kind of superficial fun rather than interesting jokes that arise from actual situations or reflect wit and intelligence. In fact, Bashar was disconnected from the reality of his own self and the world around him; further, his nice and fun personality was a mere escapade from the real world.

I formulated my interpretation of Bashar’s personality from the ideas that I acquired about him through studying the course of his presidency and linking them to the old memories that I have of him. Since I recounted above these old memories, let me concentrate now on the course of his presidency. Bashar started his presidency with his famous first inaugural speech.  Indeed, in this speech, he promised a lot of reforms. However, ten years later he came to say that he was unable to carry out any of these reforms, because of hard circumstances. However, when we look deeply at these excuses, we find none of them is credible. Furthermore, we find that all the roots for his ailed governance started in the first five years of his presidency, during which he enjoyed full encouragement from the international community and support from the Syrian people. In fact, Bashar was not able to do these reforms, because he has an inherent handicap in his personality that arises from his indecisiveness and his pervasive sense of powerlessness.

Another early event in Bashar’s presidency was the Damascus Spring. When Bashar permitted the discussion forums to start, he did not understand the people’s need for freedom of expression and intellectual exchanges. He did not understand the effect of many decades of suppression of free speech. He did not understand that he and the people around him lacked the intellectual acumen that permits to them to keep up with the ideas that may originate from these forums. He thought that he was like an adult providing candies to small children; therefore, they should be happy and grateful. Thus, when these forums propagated like mushrooms and the regime’s “attack dogs” were not able to keep up with the ideas arising from these forums, Bashar closed the forums abruptly and even put some participants in prison. Thereupon, he did not only create disappointment among the Syrian intellectuals, but also pain and bitterness.

Another big mistake that Bashar did early in his presidency was mixing up the state business with the family business. The archetype of this conduct was offering the monopoly of the mobile phone business to his cousin (Rami Makhlouf), thus provoking the traditional Damascene business community by breaking the implicit agreement that Hafez al-Assad made with them. This agreement that implied that the traditional Damascene bourgeoisie would relinquish any power claim in exchange for security and freedom of doing business. All that resulted in putting Riad Saif and Maamoun al-Homsi in prison on false charges, consequently inciting pain and bitterness among the traditional Damascene business class.

Indeed, all the above-mentioned examples reflect Bashar’s inability to understand and deal with complex realities. However, I found that the most shocking example of his negative emotions and disconnection with the reality was his first speech after the uprising started. During this discourse, Bashar was smiling all the time, while people were dying in the street. This smile was an indication that Bashar has lost all form of conscience. Further, it reminded me his naïve immature smile when he was young and how it has transformed into a silly wicked smile when he got older, showing how immaturity lead into evil.

In fact, the above-mentioned conduct demonstrates how complex situations, such as the presidency, could shatter the psychological underpinning of immature naïve people, apparently modest and nice, transforming them into ruthless rulers, committing atrocious crimes. Further, it makes us question the wisdom of the father, Hafez al-Assad, who, may be by wishing being eternal and despite the advices that were offered to him to do not do so, bequeathed his throne to his inapt son, Bashar, casting a curse upon him.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bashar and the Mounting Pressure

The pressure that the Arabic countries and the international community have exerted on the Syrian regime last week is the precursor of a continuously mounting pressure that will culminate shortly by UN Security Council decision declaring that the regime has committed crimes against humanity and submitting an indictment of its leaders to the International Criminal Court, and thus leading to the regime’s downfall. These developments indicate that Bashar lacks completely the sense of the reality, resilience and shrewdness.

Although I did not agree with the way with which Hafez Assad governed Syria, I found that his survival instinct is better than that his son has. This survival instinct was not possible without having some kind of sense of the reality, resilience and shrewdness. When Salah Jedid was irritating Israel by firing artilleries from the Golan Heights onto the Galilee Valley, which was one of the reasons for 1976 war, Hafez Assad understood that was a dangerous strategy. Hafez Assad stopped these immature acts. When Turkey put >30000 soldiers on the Syrian border in 1998, Hafez Assad did not move any. He did not panic. However, he understood that he should hand over Ojlan. As can be seen from both examples, Hafez Assad had certain sense of the reality, resilience and shrewdness.

On the other hand, Hafez al-Assad showed a deficient vision for Syria. He viewed Syria as a means for his vain glory. He viewed Syria as a regional power not for the sake of Syria and its people, but for the sake of his own self-image. Indeed, he destroyed the Syrian economy and social cohesiveness in order to consolidate his power internally and achieve the image that he conceived for himself externally. What Hafez Assad did not understand was that no regional or international power can be real or persists for long time with getting its strategic depth from the creativity of its individuals, the cohesiveness of its society and the strength of its economy.

Needless to say that Bashar does not only lack all kind of vision, but also all qualities required for survival. Indeed, he has no sense of the reality; he does not know his strengths and weaknesses; he does not know what provokes other people's anger; he does not understand what could be done what could not. He did not understand that his strength was the educated-man image that he tried to bestow upon himself early on in his presidency. Instead, he transformed himself into ruthless ruler persecuting his political opponents and killing his own people, which revolted claiming dignity and freedom. He did not know that killing unarmed demonstrators would bring upon him the indignation of the international community. He did not know that killing people in the month of Ramadan will take all the cover that the Arabic governments has provided to him till now. Further, Bashar has no resilience: once he takes a line of action he is too stiff; he is not able to change or retreat in the right moment; his discourse is always the same; if people do not respond favorably to his words, it means for him that they are the ones who do not understand (not his words are not the right words). When the regime decided to give the Syrian people a lesson by blockading and ransacking Dara’a, the Syrian people did not kneel. Instead of changing this failing policy, Bashar continued to bombard and seize more cities. When he described the demonstrators as infiltrators in his first speech, the Syrian people mocked of that description. Instead of changing that repulsive language, Bashar ended in his third speech by describing the Syrians as microbes.

Indeed, for all the reasons mentioned above, Bashar lacks social intelligence and shrewdness; in other words, he does not understand the signs of the times. Therefore, he interprets wrongly the meaning of the explicit and implicit messages that he receive and the significance of historical events that he experiences, making him, unlike his father, completely deficient of the survival instinct and leading him to utter political and personal failures, thus putting in danger not only his presidency but also his life as a free man and the future of his kids, who do not merit to be named the children of a criminal.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scenario of the Syrian Revolution

Some try to find reference for the Syrian uprising in the Iranian Green (2009-2010), the Tunisian (2011), the Egyptian (2011) or the Libyan (2011) revolutions. However, I see what is happening in Syria is similar to what happened in Iran 1977-1979 rather than to the above-mentioned revolutions.

First, the situation in Syria is different from the Iranian Green Revolution. Indeed, the current Syrian uprising is a popular movement that aims to completely change the regime, whereas the Green Revolution in Iran (2009-2010) was an elite protest within the same regime that aimed to contest the election results in support for a less conservative candidate. Therefore, the Iranian regime was able to curb it easily. Furthermore, the Syrian situation is different from the Tunisian and the Egyptian ones. In fact, the Tunisian regime did not have the military support from the beginning and, in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak lost the military support early on due to the American pressure on the military. In this respect, there is one important similarity between Syria and Libya where the army special units are in the hands of the “royal families” in both countries (Maher and Khamis, respectively), thereby guaranteeing significant support for both regimes. Unfortunately, the revolution in Libya transformed rapidly from a popular uprising into some kind of a civil war with a major tribal component. In contrast, the situation in Syria remained till now by excellence a popular uprising with clear peaceful claims of freedom and democracy without any degradation into a civil war (which might occur along the sectarian division). This happened, because of the political maturity of the Syrian people and the insistence of the Facebook organizers on the peaceful nature of this revolution. Importantly, there is another aspect in which the situation in Syria differs from the situations in the above-mentioned country is the lack of the enthusiasm among the International Community for removing the Syrian regime, due to the uncertainty as regard to the political consequences of its fall.

In my opinion the Syrian revolution is similar in many aspects to the Iranian one of 1977-1979. The Iranian revolution started by small size protests that had grown up progressively over 15 months (October 1977-Deceber 1987) to involve 10% of the population. Indeed, only few hundreds of people participated in the early demonstrations in October 1977. However, in summer 1987, after the idea of overthrowing the regime had become viable in the mind of many Iranians, the demonstrators’ number grew to several hundreds of thousands and the protests became ubiquitous in almost every Iranian city, including Tehran (however in a lesser scale). Further, the demonstrations reached their climax with 6-9 million demonstrator (10% of the population), including 2 million in Teheran alone, in December 1987. Of course, all these developments were not without significant brutal crackdown by the SAVAC (the Shah’s secret police), resulting in thousands of casualties among the demonstrators. During this time, the Shah’s support was gradually declining among the institutions that were profiting from his regime, particularly the army and the security forces. The Shah himself was progressively getting exhausted and emotionally drained; thus, when then the American Secretary of the Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal visited him in the autumn of 1978, he reported to his administration:"You've got a zombie out there”. The American administration was slowly admitting that the revolution is unstoppable (as expressed by a telegram, with the title “Thinking the Unthinkable”, sent by then the U.S. ambassador to Iran, William H. Sullivan to the State Department). However, the events on the ground were fast developing and the US administration was not able to prepare an alternative for the Shah regime. All that ended by the Shah abdicating his throne and negotiating his departure in humiliating conditions without an alternative being prepared.

I see the Syrian situation is similar to the Iranian one in many respects. First, the demonstrations started in a peripheral city (Dara’a) and have gradually increased in number and spread all over the country, somewhat sparing for now the two major cities (Aleppo and Damascus). This is because of the major security grip on these two cities. However, many indications point out that the idea of overthrowing the regime started to become viable in the mind of the Damascenes and the Aleppines, leading me to believe that they will prevail shortly over the security grip and the demonstrations will pervade every quarter of these two cities. Further, the support for the regime among its pillars, including the army, the Ba'ath Party members and the Civil Servants, is clearly eroding, too. The regime’s administration is confused and erratic. However, it is pretending (or has the illusion) to be in control, but the situation on the ground is, indeed, far being a close image to that. The president appears to be exhausted, withdrawn and pathetic. Certainly, the he is feeling deep disappointment and frustration, mainly because his self-delusion of being a competent, beloved and admired president has been severely broken. Further, the president is surely under extreme pressures, not the least the pressure from his wife, who likely started to feel betrayed and being used by the president and his regime (the President’s family). We should not forget the pressure from his other family members who are likely accusing him of being weak and indecisive. Lastly and most importantly, it is the economy and progressive increase in the intensity of demonstrations that are making the heavier weight on the president.

For all these reasons, I see that current Syrian condition is more similar to the Iranian situation (1977-1979) rather than to the circumstances surrounding the Iranian (2009-2010), Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan revolutions. Indeed, it is a standoff between the people and the regime that will take few more months. However, all the events on the ground indicate that the people is likely the winner. Nonetheless, the length of time till the people achieves its final victory, and the extent of damage on the country’s infra-structure and the death toll, will depend on the regime’s success in inciting sectarian clashes, the capacity of the opposition to select a viable political leadership and the efficacy of the American ambassador in his latest efforts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Final Declaration of National Salvage Congress

Under the slogan "For civil, democratic and pluralistic Syria ", the National Salvage Congress was held  in Istanbul on July 16, 2011 AD in the presence of national personalities and activists, representatives of the youth and the coordination committees of Syrian revolution and  representative of the national action factions. However, due to the fact that a number of Martyrs have been killed in the neighborhood of Qaboun (Damascus) at the site reserved for the conference that was to be held in Damascus to coincide with the Istanbul one, the Damascus Conference was cancelled. 

The participants started the meeting with a minute of silence and the recitation of Al-Fatiha, in tribute to the martyrs’ souls.  Moreover, the attendees condemned the massacre committed by the regime in the neighborhood of Qaboun, calling for the establishment of International Investigation Committee on this massacre and the previous massacres committed by the regime, and expressed their appreciation for the sacrifices carried out by the youth of the revolution. Further, the participants commended the officers and members of the military who have aligned themselves with the choice of the people for freedom and dignity.

In addition, all the attendees concurred that the killing, the displacement of people and the seize of cities and villages carried out by the regime, made it lose its popular and political legitimacy. Plus, they stressed the right of the people in the revolution to achieve their legitimate demands for freedom and dignity and to ensure a bright future for civil and democratic Syria that is for all its children; and they considered that the National Salvage as a step in this direction and consistent with the sacrifices offered by the Syrian people. 

 The Conference called upon the Syrian people and their national forces to achieve the following objectives: 
1 – The escalation of the peaceful democratic struggle to which all the factions and spectra of the Syrian opposition forces have contributed through long years of struggle and work with all opposition parties to topple the Syrian regime and develop a national political alternative, rejecting any foreign military intervention. 
2 - The peaceful transfer of power to a transitional national government that will disintegrate the security state, establish constitutional life and organize parliamentary and presidential elections. 
3 – The establishment of a pluralistic democratic civil state based on citizenship that originates from a modern constitution that embodies the Syrians’ ambition for shaping a free and safe future and the emphasis on the importance of the role of youth and women in it. 
4 – The emphasis on the full equality of all the sons and daughters of the Syrian people, the respect for their religious and ethnic particularities, the peaceful coexistence and national cooperation between all the Muslim and Christian sects of the Syrian people and the participation of all ethnic groups, including Kurds, Assyrians and Turkish, and all other minorities, in the building of a civil, democratic and pluralistic state that is based on the ideas of social contract and alternation of power and guarantees the rights of freedom and dignity for all.
5 - The emphasis on the full equality of all the sons and daughters of the Syrian people, the respect for their religious and ethnic particularities and the peaceful coexistence and national cooperation between all the Muslim and Christian sects of the Syrian people.

Finally, the conferees in Istanbul have established a national commission made up of 25 members, from across the spectrum of the opposition, and authorized to elect an Executive Office that will consist of 11 members; further, the participants in Damascus will elect 50 members for the National Commission and 13 members for the Executive Office.

The members of the National Commission elected in Istanbul are:
1. Najib Ghadhbian
2. Christina Abraham
3. Adib al-Shishakli
4. Iyas al-Maleh
5. Muhamed Sirmini
6. Eid Abassi
7. Fateh al-Rawi
8. Ahmad al-Jaborri
9. Hamdi Othman
10. Farhad Ahmad
11. Marah al-Buka’i
12. Hassan Hashimi
13. Khalid Khoja
14. Moteea Al-Botein
15. Ali Auzturkman
16. Faraj Hammod al-Faraj
17. Mahmmod al-Faisal
18. Ommar al-Shwaf
19. Jamal Al-Wadi
20. Ahmad al-Asa’ad
21. Mahmmod al-Dughim
22. Marwan Da’as
23. Mariam al-Jalabi
24. Jamal al-Ward
25. Ibrahim al-Hariri

What did the opposition achieve by the “National Salvage Congress”?


To a large extent the “National Salvage Congress” was a success. Through this conference the opposition, and consequently the Syrian revolution, has been able to achieve many objectives.

First, the opposition exposed the hypocrisy of the regime. The regime promised reforms. The “president” announced that he was “cancelling” the state of emergency. However, when the opposition decided to hold a meeting concomitantly in Damascus and Istanbul, the regime response was so violent, killing more than 24 persons in front of the hall in which the Damascus section of meeting was supposed to be held. This response revealed the real face of the regime and exposed its hypocrisy to the Syrian people and the International community. Till recently the American Administration had a small glimmer of hope that the regime could be faithful with its promised reforms, but after this massacre this glimmer of hope has surely completely faded.

Second, the meeting was an excellent political exercise for the opposition in which they proposed conflicting ideas, discussed with respect and open mind and reached compromises and consensus. This was a rare scene in Syrian politics. The Syrian opposition has infamously known for its division due to personal and ideological differences. In this meeting, the opposition showed us that it can transcend its trifling personal conflicts and it can overcome its destructive ideological rigidity, when the interest of the country requires that. For long time, the Syrian regime played on these differences to paralyze the opposition; today, the opposition pulled that card out from the hands of the vicious regime. For long time, the Syrian opposition brought to itself the ridicule and distrust of the international community (as clearly shown in the Wikileaks documents); today the opposition redeemed itself. For long time, the opposition made us worry about its narrow mind and fragmented condition; today, the opposition calmed and exalted our concerned mind.

Lastly and most importantly, the opposition has put, in this meeting, a plan of action to carry out the political fight against the regime. Although this plan still primitive, it is an important step in the right direction. Since the Syrian revolution started four month ago the development on the ground has been rapidly progressing, with additional cities and larger number of people involved every week. However, the various political solutions proposed came unviable or timid at best. In this meeting, the opposition with a united voice elected a “council of national salvation”, which will actively conduct the political fight at the national and international scenes, to bring the regime down. By far, this is the most mature and workable solution for the current Syrian crisis.

In my opinion the “National Salvage Congress” has succeeded to a great measure. However, it is important to see the extent to which the opposition can be effective in its fight with the Assad regime. Further, it is important to see whether the international community and the Syrian people would perceive the unified, active and pragmatic opposition as a viable alternative to the dying regime.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Kind of Leading Entity Does the Syrian Opposition Need?

The discussion regarding the political entity that Syria needs in this moment is a very important one, because it will have a decisive impact on the war with the regime and on the transition period thereafter. Does the Syrian opposition need a shadow government of technocrats or a leading body composed of politicians from the opposition?

What we need now is a political entity that is composed from politicians who are able to lead the political fight against regime and to navigate through the transition period till a free election is held. We need a political entity that is composed from people who can counteract the propaganda machine of the regime. We need a political entity that can connect and communicate with Syrian people. We need a political entity that can inspire and encourage the people protesting in the street. We need a political entity that can bring to the revolution the people who are neutral till now. We need a political entity that can lay out a vision for the future of the country. We need a political entity that can address the international community. We need people who have good understanding for life. We need people who have good understanding for society. We need people who have can understand human beings around them. We need people who can talk coherently. We need people who know to speak to human minds. We need people who can bring a nation together even if this nation contains groups with different tendencies and culture.

At this time, we do not care whether these people are physicians, engineers or having any high professional degrees (technocrats). Most leaders who lead great nations in difficult time of their history did not have high degrees. To mention few, Churchill during the second world war, De Gaulle during the war and the years that just followed it and Mandela during the apartheid regime. All these people succeeded not because they possessed high –degrees, but because they understood the needs of their respective nations at that particular time. They succeeded, because they understood the dynamic of international relationship at that time. They succeeded because they have courage and stamina. They succeeded because they were not slaves of immature needs. In other words, they succeeded because they have the vision and the charisma.

In fact, we do not need at this time a shadow government of technocrats. We need a governing entity that is composed politicians from the opposition that can lead and inspire our great people though this difficult time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Urgency for a Transition Council in Syria

It is obvious that regime is destined to die. This is basically because the regime does not have the essential pillars of a functioning government. First, the president has no potential to be a president. He is immature, egocentric, apathetic, doubtful, indecisive and erratic. Second, the government institutions are dysfunctional, irrational and disharmonious; further, they are governed by corruption, idiocy and lunacy. Therefore, this regime is destined to die. This is similar to a cellular process called “Programmed Cell Death”. In this phenomenon, a healthy cell that suffer from an extreme injury or a sick cell that undergo a minimal stress will start a series of biochemical reactions that lead to the final demise of that cell. Once this series of reaction starts, nothing can stop it; cell death will surely ensue. The Syrian regime is like a sick cell, it needed only a minimal trigger to initiate its death. Ironically, the trigger was simply few young teenagers writing graffiti on the wall, and it is clear nothing can stop its programmed death.

Indeed, the regime is panting and feeling that its end is coming closer. However, it is fighting back by more oppression, persecution and killing. For long time, the regime was restricting the people’s claim for their basic rights by threats, oppression and persecution. For long, the regime thought it was successful doing so. But, when the people started to demonstrate asking for freedom and dignity, the regime was startled. The only answer it has was more oppression, persecution and killings, because this is the only the language the regime knows. Further, because the regime madness the persecution and oppression transformed into massive killings and crimes against humanity.

Thus, to reduce the death toll among the Syrian people, it is imperative to accelerate the regime demise. In my opinion, the best way to reach this goal is by forming a “transition council” that can lead the political fight against the regime inside the country and at the international scene. This council must be composed by politicians from the opposition and not by technocrats as it was proposed. These politicians must have the vision and charisma that permit to them to communicate and convince the Syrian people and the international community. One may ask: “how this transition council would help accelerate the end of this regime?!”

First, this “transition council” will help formulate concrete political objectives for the popular uprising. This formulation will further ignite this revolution and provide the demonstrators with additional courage and persistence. The demonstrators will feel that they are making history and a positive outcome for their sacrifices is looming.

Second, there is still a sizable portion of the Syrian people that wishes the end of the regime, but it is not participating in this popular uprising. This hesitation is mainly because this portion feels that the revolution is “faceless” and wonders concerning the political alternative that would replace the Assad regime. The presence of a thoughtful political face (a transition counsel) for the combative body (the people who protest in the streets) that can lay out a clear perspective regarding the future of the country may encourage this segment of the Syrian people to at least align with, or fully join, the revolution against the vicious regime.
Third, the formation of a “transition council” will increase the regime panic, leading it to commit more mistakes and to further exhaustion of its energy, which, consequently, will accelerate its demise. We saw such panic with every political move carried out by the opposition, as it happened during the Damascus Spring and after the formation of “The Damascus declaration for Democratic Change in Syria”. Despite is panic the regime was able to curb the first by closing its political forums and to impede the second by persecuting most of its leaders living inside Syria. What differs this time is that the regime is already overwhelmed by the demonstrations taking place almost in all Syrian cities, making this council a heavy burden that could break the regime’s back.

Fourth, the formation of such council will address many of the international community worries and concerns. This council will have the diplomatic mission to visit many countries in the world, including Russia, China, EU and USA, to convey the aspirations of the Syrian people and explain the opposition political vision as how it will work to fulfill these aspirations and to build a country that is respected and has good standing in the international arena. If this mission is successful, that would answer many of the international community concerns regarding the future of Syria post Bashar al-Assd and would put the last nail in the regime’s coffin.

Undoubtedly, the end of the Assad regime is approaching. But, the faster the regime dies, the less suffering the Syrian people will experience. For this reason, all efforts should be committed to accelerate regime’s demise and it is upon the Syrian opposition to make a historic decision by forming a “transition council”.


P.S. This paper was sent to the Antalya Conference on April 29, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Syrian Opposition Lacks the Sense of Responsibility and Political Maturity

The struggle of the Syrian people against the regime has two dimensions:
1. The demonstrations on the ground, in which the Syrian people showed great courage and determination and for which it deserves a score of 10/10.2. The political struggle with the regime to be carried out by the opposition politicians and for which I give the opposition politicians a 1.5/10 rating.

In order that I can evaluate the performance of the opposition, I should define first the objective of this political struggle:

1. To formulate the aspirations and demands of the Syrian people.
2. To represent the Syrian people in possible negotiations with the regime.
3. To convey the aspirations and demands of the Syrian people to the neighboring countries and the international community.
4. To communicate and to connect with the Syrian people

After having defined the roles that the opposition must fulfill, I will now evaluate the success of the opposition in carrying out these tasks.


First, the opposition
has succeeded only partially in formulating the aspirations and demands of the Syrian people. It is true that all the opposition groups have called for a state that is based on the principles of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", the principles that are the key demands of the Syrian people. However, there are opposition groups, unlike the Syrian people, who were not clear as to the need to eliminate and submit to justice the persons who commit crimes (especially crimes against humanity).
Second, at this time no group from the opposition can claim that it is representative of the Syrian people. For the opposition to represent the Syrian people, it must be united. By "united" I do not mean that it should form one political party, but I mean that the opposition should form a temporary alliance that speaks with one voice until the regime falls and a free election is held. For this purpose, all the opposition groups that are inside the country or abroad should meet together in one conference and propose anational action plan” on which the opposition needs to explore the views of the Syrian people through the media. In addition, the opposition must elect a "national action committee" or "council" that will be the official representative of the united opposition and consequently the Syrian people. Indeed, this is the only entity that can really represent the Syrian people and have a real mandate to negotiate with the regime on behalf the Syrian people.

Third, it
is necessary that the opposition lead a political fight against the regime in the international arena. No group from the opposition could say at this point that it can represent the Syrian people in this field. Radwan Ziadeht and his friends’ visit to Moscow was good, but I have doubts that its results would be powerful enough to put real pressure on the regime. This is simply because the group is not an official representative of the opposition and therefore does not officially represent the Syrian people.

Finally,
the Syrian people need leaders from the opposition that can connect and communicate with them. The brave Syrian people deserve leaders who talk to them directly. When the "president" has appeared on television, he called them microbes. This great nation needs to hear a different discourse from its leaders. These wonderful people need leaders who respect, encourage, and reassure them regarding the future of their country. Unfortunately, no one from the opposition does directly address the Syrian people. These poor people are like "sheep without a shepherd", left alone without defence or resource to the wolf to eat them without mercy.

Briefly,
the opposition so far has failed to demonstrate a sense of responsibility and political maturity necessary to qualify as a credible representative of the Syrian people.

The Illusion of Dialogue

The dialogue that took place on July 10 &11, 2011 between representatives of the Syrian government, independent personalities, “visitors from abroad” and some members the opposition will lead to nothing. This is simply because the opposition figures who participated in this dialogue (and of course the other participants, too) have not understood the demands of the Syrian people. The Syrians have taken the decision to close a page in their history and open a new one. The Syrian people correctly have understood that "No one puts a piece of new cloth on an old garment." It seems that these opposition figures have not felt well the pulse of the Syrian street. In other words, these figures have no sense of reality. With these words, I am not trying to judge them personally or judge the manner in which they make their decisions in general, but it is an opinion on certain decisions and particular political choices.

In fact, this lack of sense of reality is not unusual and is not particular for a small group of people, but it is indeed the fundamental challenge for all humanity. For that history is full of sad stories and disappointing events. This is why Edward Gibbon wrote: “History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind ".  However, I am confident that the Syrian people will prove that the sentence of Edward Gibbon mentioned-above is not relevant to its revolution. In addition, I hope that the rest of the opposition will continue to work to unite in one front to bring the regime down without being affected by this dialogue, because dialogue is just "much ado about nothing."