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The Syrian opposition is not fragmented | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The prevailing tone today when discussing the Syrian opposition – rightly or wrongly – is that it is fragmented. This is an excuse used by some people – intentionally or otherwise – to say that it is difficult to take an Arab or international stand towards the al-Assad regime, because the opposition is not unified, but such talk is untrue.

How can we expect people that have lived for over forty years, and continue to live, under a regime governing with terror and abuse, and consecrating power in the hand of one sect, to muster a consistent and unanimous opposition? The regime has used all its cards in order to impose the reality of “divide and rule” to govern Syria. Here we see the regime pitting the Christians against the Muslims, and vice versa, even making Muslims fear other Muslims and so on. In the 1980s, the regime destroyed the city of Hama to impose its control, and covered itself in the cloak of Iran’s mullahs in order to gain influence in the region. In a country where the regime’s supporters raise the image of the leader of the Hezbollah militia as well as Bashar al-Assad, how can we expect the opposition to be united? It is logical that members of the Syrian opposition are united only in their desire to overthrow al-Assad, and not in their subsequent visions, but this does not apply to the Syrians alone.

If we want to cite a close example then there is Libya. Were it not for the international umbrella that embraced the Libyan opposition, and provided assistance to its ranks immediately through the “Friends of Libya” conference – which was attended by around 49 countries, in addition to the Arab and international cover that the opposition received, how else would the Libyan opposition have ever united in this form? Particularly as it passed through very difficult moments, especially when field commander General Abdel Fatah Younis was assassinated, which in itself almost led to the fragmentation of the Libyan opposition. If we cite history, were it not for British or American support, then how else would the Iraqi opposition have united against Saddam Hussein in London, in a conference that brought together the Islamists and the secularists, the Kurds and the Arabs, and the entire Iraqi mosaic? How would Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon have become strong without Syrian and Iranian support, which allowed it to overcome difficulties and integrate within the political scene until we saw Hezbollah ally with Michel Aoun, which is like a convergence between the East and the West!

Thus, the common “diagnosis” of the Syrian opposition as a fragmented entity is nothing more than a means of avoiding duty. Everyone must support the Syrian opposition and help to bring together its different viewpoints, unite its ranks and empower its leaders. This is what happened in almost all similar Arab cases – even the Egyptian opposition to Mubarak received moral support from the West and some Arabs. However, we have yet to see a genuine Arab or international effort to support the Syrian opposition, such as recognizing the Syrian National Council and imposing it as the reality. With the mere appearance of Burhan Ghalioun next to an Arab or international leader, alongside the call for an international conference, things would instantly change for the better, and why should we deprive the Syrians of that?

This is the question. Our objective is not to create an artificial opposition; the opposition is already there, and is receiving fatal blows every day from a regime that kills its own people. The story is not about fabricating a crisis, it is about solving it!