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A Christian leader of the Syrian opposition - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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You can say what you want about the Syrian opposition, and even the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, but what is significant is that they were able to elect a Christian leader for the Syrian National Council. One could argue that this would not have come about without intensive international efforts in Doha, through Arab, regional and global powers, and this is true, but this is exactly what I have been saying ever since the start of the Syrian revolution.

Since the start of this courageous uprising some have argued sincerely, but incorrectly, that the Syrian revolution’s problem is that it lacks a united opposition. I refuted this, as others did later, saying that such talk was not accurate, and that the Syrian opposition would unite once genuine international support was in place, along the lines of what happened with the Iraqi opposition at the London conference before the occupation of Iraq, and with the Libyan opposition before the NATO intervention against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. If Bashar al-Assad is actually aware of what he is seeing, and what is going on around him, he must pay serious attention to the historic picture circulated by international news agencies from Doha, and published in our newspaper on Friday, depicting the Prime Minister of Qatar and the foreign ministers of both the UAE and Turkey. If al-Assad has one iota of awareness, he will realize that this image is strikingly similar to the one issued after the Friends of Libya conference, which ultimately heralded the downfall of the Gaddafi regime.

The Syrian opposition, and with it of course the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, have realized that the international arena has changed. The current situation requires an earnest and selfless approach in order to prepare for the final moments prior to the end of the al-Assad regime, whether politically or militarily. Now a Christian leader, Mr. George Sabra, has been elected to lead the Syrian National Council, and the truth is that this has come about due to the flexibility of the Syrian opposition, and the insistence of Arab, regional and international sponsors at the Doha conference. This move undermines the “minorities” card played by al-Assad in his recent interview with the television network Russia Today. In fact, through this interview, it is funny to think that al-Assad himself was the one who gave the final strong push for the Syrian opposition to elect a Christian leader, especially when he said that his regime is “the last bastion of secularism, stability and coexistence in the region”. One of the main reasons for the Syrian revolution is al-Assad himself, with his obstinate, erroneous decisions and his criminal actions. The Syrian President, in order to remain in power, has offered concessions that are negligible in comparison with other Arab regimes that have fallen, but he is blind to the reality.

Of course, the election of Sabra does not mean we have achieved our desired hope for reform in our region. Decades ago, specifically before the disastrous military coups that only brought losses and underdevelopment to our region, there were no problems with minorities, Christian or otherwise, assuming public office, or becoming stars in Arab societies whether politically, economically or artistically. This was the same for the Kurds and followers of other religions in the region, even the Jews. The importance of Sabra’s election is that it thwarts al-Assad’s “minorities” card, and likewise it limits the greed of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has burned all its credit within the space of one year due to political foolishness, selfishness and exclusion.

The important thing today is that the Syrian opposition, with the presence of Arab and international supervision, has been able to take a significant step, and this is what I have said over the past two years. This sends a message to al-Assad, namely that his days are numbered.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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