Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: A Shower of Spokesmen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Syrian carries a revolution flag during a Friday protest in Aleppo, Syria, where young people and children sang songs against Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.(AP Photo/Virginie Nguyen Hoang)

We, the Syrian people, have grown accustomed to seeing the Ba’athist regime speaking for us, without anybody authorizing it or assigning it the task. We have also grown accustomed to seeing it blame us for its own stupidity and malpractice, although we have long been the victims of its terrible oppression. The regime claims that it is not the one that is making the decisions or issuing the statements, but that it is the Syrian people who are doing so. This became the status quo over nearly half a century, where any Ba’ath Party member, no matter how minor, became a spokesman for the party, and by proxy the entire silenced people of Syria. The punishment for speaking out during this time was severe—even deadly.

While any government with a sense of self-esteem and respect for its people would assign an official spokesman to express its opinion on important issues, any and all Ba’ath Party members could claim to speak on behalf of the country. These “spokesmen” would come out and confidently state: “Our noble people want this or that.” These party members spoke as if they had conducted in-depth polls and investigations into what the Syrian people wanted, closely analyzing their results based on systematic and scientific rules to reach an informed conclusion.

The Syrian public was completely absent during the ghastly Assad era, and this led to a proliferation of politicians and officials speaking on our behalf. Prompted by an overwhelming desire to confuse the general public so that they would be unable to see what was in front of them, the Ba’ath Party would always issue varied and contradictory statements on any and every topic. Today, precisely the same thing is happening with the Syrian revolution, with various “spokesmen” and officials claiming to speak on its behalf.

The presence of these “spokesmen” reflects a dilemma the revolution has been facing from the beginning—a problem that has remained unsolved until today. The problem lies in a lack of a centralized leadership or a comprehensive plan to end the ongoing struggle in Syria and provide an objective approach to the country’s future. Those involved in the Syrian revolution should adopt a singular approach in terms of conduct and vision, working together to fulfil common goals within an agreed period of time. The Syrian revolution lacks suitable leadership and experience; this is why the Syrian revolution has become embroiled in a maze of contradictory viewpoints. In this case, it is no wonder the Syrian revolutionaries are divided, for the groups and movements they belong to are similarly divided and follow different viewpoints and ideologies, playing on the general public’s sentiments and interests to attract supporters.

The Syrian people have likely been led astray by these movements and organizations, failing to understand the reality on the ground. The people are confused because they rebelled for freedom, justice and equality, and they have now found themselves falling under the pressure of organizations that reject freedom and even consider it to be against Islam. The second issue is that the groups and individuals that originally spoke up for freedom are retreating and withdrawing in the face of these divisions and this violence. The Syrian people’s struggle against the regime has shifted into an international conflict whereby the people’s bravery has been buried under international disagreements and political considerations.

The outside world is benefitting greatly from the complete paralysis in the internal situation in Syria and its failure to live up to the expectations of one of the greatest and most courageous revolutions in history. Thus a serious phenomenon with dangerous results has emerged. This phenomenon has seen a proliferation of people speaking on behalf of the increasingly divided Syrian revolution. This is a phenomenon that has a number of dangerous repercussions, including increasing the state of despair among the Syrian rebels and the opposition, while also causing large categories of Syrian men and women to disavow the revolution and view it as a futile attempt that will have a very high cost. As a result, revolutionary organizations that had previously enjoyed mass support, playing a vital role in the continuation of the revolution, are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.

It is very difficult to find a way out of this quagmire of contradictory rhetoric and discourse, which has undermined what remains of our revolution. This contradictory discourse has become the daily bread of the Syrian revolution, and it is also a means for those with ambition to climb the ladder to wealth and power. These revolutionary climbers are ultimately harming the Syrian people’s revolution with every disingenuous statement they issue. They are adopting accusatory and eliminatory discourse towards others, and their ultimate goal is to preserve their share of the spoils.

The proliferation of Syrian spokesmen has ultimately caused the Syrian revolution to retreat. It is thanks to these spokesmen that the revolution and the revolutionaries have become immersed in an ocean of contradictory rhetoric that will ultimately throttle and crush it.