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  • Ayoon Wa Azan (What Matters Are Deeds, Not Signatures)
    Wed, 21 December 2011
    Jihad el-Khazen

    The following article was written last week, but I had put off its publication pending the Syrian National Council (SNC) conference in Tunisia. However, having followed the results of the conference, I find no reason to change or amend what I wrote, and so I publish the article exactly as it was written:

    The Syrian opposition is divided; should it engage or boycott the regime? Should it accept or reject foreign intervention? Should the uprising be armed or should it remain peaceful?

    Differences of opinion should be a positive phenomenon, where dissidents would advance their views – which are sometimes so different they contradict one another – so that they can ultimately reach a better common view. However, many elements in the Syrian opposition are undemocratic, and we saw an example of this when supporters of the SNC attacked members of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in the street outside of the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

    I would have taken that incident as a rare occurrence, were it not for the fact that I see examples that remind me of it every day.

    I don’t know Adnan Araour, but I read that he is formerly from the military and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Without asking for it, I received a clip from a television interview in which he threatened to cut off the tongue of everyone who does not call for foreign military intervention, even if it was Burhan Ghalyoun.

    Dr. Ghalyoun has a good reputation, and I have strongly objected when he said during a press interview that the future regime would sever military ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

    I would have preferred it if the Chairman of the SNC had left it for the Syrian people, in future free elections, to decide which relations to sever and which to promote. Nonetheless, I do not want his tongue cut off, but I rather defend his right to express his opinion, even when I disagree with him. I also want to ask, who gave Ararour the right to cut off people’s tongues, even if what he said was a figure of speech?

    More importantly, the self-appointed guardian of the Syrian uprising, who lacks any popular mandate, is a man who understands nothing about foreign policy. Indeed, the intervention in Libya took place for oil-related calculations, by countries that had held agreements with Muammar Gaddafi, enabling him to continue to slaughter his people. Then when the people rose up against him, these countries joined the people against Gaddafi, and said that they wanted a price, which is in fact the continuation of the oil contracts, particularly those signed with France, Britain and Italy.

    Syria does not have enough oil to justify a declaration of war; if Western nations intervene there, then the sole reason would be to protect Israel, by pressuring any future regime to sign a peace treaty with the latter.

    Is this something that the man can understand? Perhaps one of his sons can interview him about this soon enough. Perhaps Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi should also read the above, as I have read about stances by him the bottom line of which being that if the Arab initiative fails in putting an end to the killing, then it is the right of the Syrian people to demand international intervention.

    Even without the self-imposed patronage of Ararour, there are things about the SNC that are cause for concern. For one thing, it is linked to foreign interests, where every major country has a share, from France (Burhan Ghalyoun and Basma Qadamani by virtue of their residence there), Germany (I hear it has two as well), America (Radwan Ziadeh and Najib al-Ghadban) and Turkey (the Muslim Brotherhood). And as regards the Kurds and Assyrians in the SNC, their causes do not go beyond their special and rather narrow interests.

    This does not mean a condemnation against the SNC members mentioned above. For one thing, foreign relations are usually dictated by one’s place of residence. As such, Radwan Ziadeh is a respected academician, but his presence in Washington has made him vulnerable to influences by the neocons, and all the other forces that want to harm Syria and its people.

    Then there is Colonel Riad al-Assaad, and the Free Syrian Army. But is it really free or is it subservient to Turkey and other Arab states that fund it? At least, this army announced that to protect the demonstrations, it will send “defectors”, whom the state calls “deserters” – and the difference in the terminology is important because the second term gives the state the right to arrest them if it finds them.

    Apart from all the factions above, there is the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, or the internal opposition, which brings together a mixture of leftwing, nasserist, communist and nationalist forces. While some of the figures of this committee are based abroad, the organization's domestic activities mean that the regime can put a stop to it if it felt that it represents a real threat to it. In truth, I heard good testimonies about the Coordinator-General Hassan Abdel Azim and other figures affiliated with the organization, such as Haytham Manna, Michel Kilo and Hussein Awdat.

    I will not claim here that I am more Syrian than the regime and all the dissidents, and will not appoint myself as a judge. Nevertheless, I want to say that Syria is my country just like Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt are, and that therefore, I am trying to put my hands on the truth amid all the mutual lies. I find nothing more important than safeguarding people's lives, and I said this in the first comment I had on the incidents in Syria in early April, in every subsequent commentary I made after that, and I say it again today. Even if the life of only one citizen is lost, whether it is a man, woman or child, it would still be an unacceptable loss that cannot be justified.

    I had hoped to conclude this piece with a positive outlook, but there is none that I can find. This is while I am aware that Syria has signed the Arab League protocol. But in the end, what matters are actions, not signatures.

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