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The international community and the Syrian opposition face a new test

Fifty years of security repression and the rupture between the opposition and political work in Syria have forced an environment of mistrust, weakness and inexperience among all the opposition’s factions without any exception.

Mihyedin Iso
2 July 2012

With the ongoing bloodshed on the streets of Syrian cities for more than 15 months, members of the international community and the Syrian opposition are preparing for meetings to end this bloodshed.  Their aim is to exert pressure on the Assad regime to stop his military machinery, remove his security apparatus from the revolting Syrian towns and villages and reach a consensual political resolution that can be agreed upon by both international and domestic forces.

The international meeting that convened on Saturday, June 30, in Geneva at the suggestion of the UN Envoy Kofi Annan, constituted a turning point in the Syrian crisis and a serious attempt from the international community to find a political resolution that adheres to the ambitions of the Syrian street of moving from political authoritarianism to a civil, democratic and pluralistic state for all Syrians.  However, the Syrian opposition is still divided with regards to this international resolution.  For while the Syrian National Council is unwilling to accept a resolution short of Bashar Al-Assad stepping down, the internal opposition in Syria, including the National Coordinating Committees and Building the Syrian State Party, sees Al-Assad stepping down as an end result and not as a pre-condition.  Also, the western countries have yet to agree on a specific mechanism to guarantee the success of this meeting due to the resistance of the Russians and the Chinese, who have in the past used their veto rights in the UN Security Council. 

The Syrian street - that is still paying the price of the western countries' positions and the external and internal divisions among the Syrian opposition and its loss of direction as it faces the internationalization of the Syrian conflict - is still watering the plants of its dreams of freedom and dignity with the blood of Syrians and the suffering of Syrian mothers.  Since the breakout of the revolution in March of 2011 and until today, more than 15,000 Syrians were killed, not to mention the thousands detained in the regime's prisons as well as the hundreds of thousands of refugees outside Syrian borders.  However, in spite of all the great risks that face every single individual who is involved in revolutionary activities, the uprising continues.  The Syrians involved in the people’s movement are still awaiting more involvement from the Syrian opposition in the field and in political campaigns and hope that the opposition can mobilize more international support to stop the massacres of the regime against the defenseless people of Syria. 

Cairo’s conference, which was held this Monday, July 2, 2012, hosted by the Arab League of States, has witnessed several extreme clashes between the different factions of the Syrian opposition prior to its convention.  This is due to certain thorny issues such as the option of international intervention and arming the Free Syrian Army.  These options are accepted by the SNC but are rejected by the internal opposition.  According to several Syrian activists, this conference will not have any value added for the Syrian revolution except for the purposes of exchanging points of view by different personalities and factions of the Syrian opposition, in spite of its progressive Covenant Document, which demanded in one of its articles the protection of the rights of national and sectarian minorities in Syria and the establishment of a transitional period which is based on the prevention of any expected outbreak of civil war due to escalating sectarian tensions in the country.  This sectarian tension is evident after the massacres which took place in areas mainly occupied by Sunnis, who have accused Alawite villages of carrying on the atrocities and trying to protect the Syrian authorities, which they believe have lost their political and moral legitimacy since the first bullet that was shot at defenseless citizens. 

The Syrian opposition, which lived through several decades of injustice, authoritarianism, repression and detention by the Syrian regime, will never shake hands with any of the pillars of this regime, especially those who have Syrian blood on their hands.  Additionally, dialogue and the formation of a new national government according to the Geneva conference will be rejected given the current situation.  Also, fifty years of security repression and the rupture between the opposition and political work in Syria have forced an environment of mistrust, weakness and inexperience among all the opposition’s factions without any exception.  Furthermore, the weakness of the opposition factions’ ability to communicate among each other and with the Syrian street will render making the right decision a difficult task.  The opposition will require time to become capable of gaining the political experience to lead the next stage of establishing a Syrian state for all Syrians, away from religious, sectarian or national factions, while facing the escalation of bloodshed and killing and kidnapping operations based on sectarian identities.          

Special thanks are due to Wafa Alsayed for translating the piece from Arabic

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