Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Even if the Syrian opposition is not united | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ever since the first day of the Syrian Revolution, advocates of Syria’s liberation have been calling for a unified opposition front that incorporates the names of historic or exiled dissidents. Those dissidents have been switching between meeting venues in Istanbul, Paris, Doha and Cairo. They have also managed to form a network of wide-ranging relations with countries that politically endorse and support them. They have been guests on multiple satellite television stations around the world, at every possible meantime from Greenwich’s to Australia’s. Today, with the emergence of new internal rifts within this opposition front, the call for the need to close ranks surfaces once again, especially at a stage considered to be a critical turning point in the course of the Syrian revolution. Some even believe that the unification of the opposition is a condition that must be first met before cooperating with it, and supporting it politically and diplomatically.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), which is about to gain political recognition from active countries as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, has suffered the withdrawal of influential, historic names from among its ranks, in protest at the management of the council and the crisis. One of those names was Haitham al-Maleh, the patriarch of dissidents, who wept whilst declaring at the first opposition meeting in Istanbul: “I walk on the banks of my grave and I do not know when I will fall into it.”

It is not important to unify the opposition amidst the circumstances of genocide, mass murder and exemplary punishment. What is the significance of the unification or division of the opposition when the women of the Levant are being raped and stripped naked in public, whilst children are slaughtered inside their homes?

The SNC is not a parliamentary body governed by a set of regulations. It is rather an emergency gathering imposed at haste by force of circumstance. Members of the SNC are a mixture of contradictory intellectual orientations brought together by nothing else except national affiliation. Even if the SNC unites over the goal of toppling the regime, the complete unification of the opposition, with regards to its own strategies, should not be a prerequisite for countries to cooperate with it. Perhaps this condition would have been legitimate at the beginning of the revolution, when the daily death toll did not exceed 20 victims and hectic diplomatic efforts were exerted to solve the crisis. But since Bashar al-Assad has decided to adopt a policy of butchery and torture, the SNC should not be overburdened with what it can’t do. The need for intervention to save the Syrians is not made more pressing by the opposition’s unification, but rather by morals and ethics.

The US and Israel still hope against hope that the Iranian regime and Russia might ultimately manage to save Bashar al-Assad from falling. This is because they fear his much dreaded replacement, i.e. extremist Islamists from “al-Qaeda” or the “Salafi” trend rising to power in Syria. To the US and Israel, the safety and security of Israeli citizens is far more important than the lives of Syrian people. We understand that. On every occasion, the US administration renews its pledge and commitment to preserve Israel’s security and interests. However, Israel must strongly bear in mind that the Syrians – who have been barbarically tortured and killed by Bashar al-Assad in front of Israeli and American eyes and ears, as well as their complicit approval – will not forgive either of them. Israel might not even be aware that, by acting in such a manner, it could be creating an enemy that is much fiercer than that of “al-Qaeda” and the “Salafis”.

So will Israel, the US, Russia and Iran stand against the Syrian people? Considering the crippling condition requiring the opposition to be unified, who will the Syrian people turn to? Where will they go?

You are not alone, Haitham al-Maleh. Today, the entire Syrian population are walking on the banks of their graves and have no idea when they might fall in them.