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Jumblatt and the "Syrian Revolution" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Moscow News Agency quoted the leader of the National Struggle Front, Walid Jumblatt, following his meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as saying “[everyone] must understand that a revolution is taking place in Syria”, and “[all parties] need to embrace the idea that the Arab people want freedom”!

Jumblatt said in Moscow that the Syrian President must seek to carry out reforms as soon as possible, release the detainees, and end the violence…Yet the pressing questions here are: Why did Jumblatt say what he said in Moscow? Has his conscience moved to support the oppressed Syrians, or for other purposes? It is true that Jumblatt was one of the first to call on al-Assad to accelerate reform, ever since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, but what is new today, and interesting, is that Walid Jumblatt calls upon everyone to understand that what is happening in Syria is a revolution, something he has not previously stated, nor has any Arab official. Likewise, Jumblatt demanded that the Syrian regime, the international community, and the Arabs of course, need to embrace the idea that the Arab people want freedom.

I am convinced that Jumblatt is fully aware that the Syrian regime is far from reform, and all the changes it undertakes by the day are merely in order to prevent genuine change in Syria. Yet Jumblatt has not realized that news websites affiliated with the Syrian regime, including “Cham Press”, reported his statements from Moscow and highlighted his talk about dialogue and reforms, but omitted his sentiment that what is happening in Syria is a revolution. How can Jumblatt convince the world that what is happening in Syria is a revolution, and demand that everyone accept the idea that the Arabs want freedom, when the Syrian regime itself does not want to accommodate that? How can Jumblatt call on the Syrian regime to release all detainees, and end the violence, whilst the government of his own country, the government of Hezbollah, ignores the Syrian security forces pursuing those fleeing from Syria into Lebanese territory, and even carries out operations against [the Syrian refugees], without the allies of the Lebanese government uttering a single word. It is enough to remember that Lebanon committed the scandal of returning fleeing soldiers to Damascus, without pity of mercy, whilst cracking down on fleeing Syrians, many of whom were young of age. Funnily enough, although we do not know whether to laugh or cry, the Syrian news agency quoted the Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri, as saying that Lebanon will not abandon one inch of land, whilst the Syrian army is maneuvering inside Lebanese territory!

Therefore, Jumblatt’s comments in Moscow are not out of concern for the oppressed Syrians. Rather a genuine concern has begun to haunt Jumblatt, after the sons of his Druze sect moved to Syria, and became involved in demonstrations opposing the al-Assad regime. Indeed, all that matters for Jumblatt is to maintain leadership of the sect.

Of course, there is no harm in that if we are talking about the logic and interests of sects, but if we are to believe Jumblatt’s rhetoric that the Arab people want freedom and reform, then his political positions, fluctuations, and statements, whether in Lebanon or Syria, are not consistent with this at all. Revolutions call for reform and state-building, and they should not be used to consolidate leadership of a sect!

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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