Another small step!

The Temporary Committee for the Damascus Declaration has announced plans to form a Permanent Committee that will include opposition figures from inside and outside the country. The new Committee will be made up of 23 members, eight of them will be chosen from the Syrian opposition abroad.

Although the Temporary Committee did not specify exactly what the new Permanent Committee is supposed to do, it will be interesting to see, nonetheless, what external opposition figures will be chosen in this regard.

Indeed, members of the TC have already distanced themselves from both Khaddam and Bayanouni (Khaddam for his past, and Bayanouni for his willingness to overlook that past), while condemning both Rifa’at Assad and Farid Ghadri (Rifa’at, the uncle of the current president and a long time contender to the presidential throne, for his past as well, and Ghadri for his declared willingness to support an American military intervention in the country).

In this, the opposition seems to be trying to steer a fine line between seeking foreign help, via Syrian opposition members abroad whose image has not been severely tarnished in popular imagination (after all, all opposition members abroad have a tarnished image thanks to the Baath propaganda machine and the gullibility of our people), while asserting their rejection of foreign intervention in the country (hence the loud rejection of any financial help from the US government).

And so, political maneuvers continue, while the street marches to a different drum. When that seemingly magical moment comes, the Street will produce its own opposition figures and movements, and will stomp on us all. And yet, I am still willing to wager on the Street for all the mayhem that popular dynamics can bring – for sometimes you just have to go through raging fire to get to the other side.

7 thoughts on “Another small step!

  1. Ammar,I don’t think Ghadri nor Rifa’at care too much about the Damascus Declaration, They do know how clawless this Committee can be. I started to have a mixed feeling about it too. They seem to Distance themselves for anyone the Assad’s regime denounce. Oppositions are a free movement and can’t be steered by a committee without a strong well, I am not too fond of Ghadri either, but they need to give him the credit of being the first to show up on the external oppostion stage. Rifaat is a criminal like the other Assad’s.

  2. What the internal opposition needs to do is focus on living conditions and developmental challenges while building up its credentials as the source of needed reformers that can help the country address thee issues. Have you noticed that each time the Syrian regime tries to give an image that it is indeed serious about reform it ends up recruiting one or two “outsiders,” such as Issam al-Zaim, Ghassan al-Rifai, or Abdallah Dardari? Isn’t this a clear admission by the regime that reform can only come from outside it? The opposition should harp on that to reveal the bankruptcy of the regime and the fact that independent figures and opposition groups are the real source of reform in the country. Nonetheless, we should really note that this opposition is acting under many serious constraints, as Ghadri himself has noted in his recent post:http://reformsyria.blogspot.com/2006/02/analysis-of-syrian-opposition.html But he tends to overplay his criticism of them as well. For in truth, opposition groups send conflicting messages in order to survive and keep the authorities guessing. However, whenever they come up with an actual document or declaration, their rejection of the authorities tends to be uncompromising. These declarations matter more than their press statements, as they reflect real hard-won consensus, and the move they are proposing now is a necessary stepping stone towards the longed-for national conference of the opposition that needs to take place sometimes this year. Meanwhile, trying to distance themselves from figures that are already problematic in popular consciousness, regardless of the actual merits of these figures or lack thereof (as is clearly the case with Rifa’at) is necessary at this stage, otherwise, they will have to spend their time defending Ghadri’s statements and positions, and this is simply not their job. It is up to Ghadri to explain himself better to the Syrian people in order to facilitate future public contacts between him and the internal opposition. This is not an easy undertaking, but it is also not an impossible one. But in order for this work, Ghadri needs to focus more on his public message, and should not be suckered into responding to the internal opposition’s statements about him. He has more room to maneuver, and he should use it. When I was still in Damascus, I tried to play a more open game of critiquing the authorities, their corruption, their incompetence and their moronic tendencies, including calling the President “stupid,” and “Fredo Corleone.” But look where this got me? I am now in exile. True, things could have been worse, having a high profile in certain circles in the US and the EU gave me a free get-out-of-Syria card. Sill, I am not forced to operate from outside the country at a very crucial juncture, I think with the different approach to political activism that I , I could have been of much greater use there.

  3. Ammar,I hope your exile will end very soon; I am sure one day you will be rewarded for your national and democratic struggle, and the criminals will be punished for the misdeed and crimes they forced on the Syrian peoples.Ammar wrote(Syrian regime tries to give an image that it is indeed serious about reform it ends up recruiting one or two “outsiders,” such as Issam al-Zaim, Ghassan al-Rifai, or Abdallah Dardari?) True, but two out of the three were forced out for resisting corruptions. I remember hearing a story about Rami Makhlouf forcing himself to Ghassan al-Rifai office and trying to knock him in the face for not obeying his instructions. You could bring as many as technocrat as you wish, but the current system is corrupted to the bones!!

  4. That is exactly the point Atassy, reform cannot come from within, so the regime ends up hiring outsiders, only to knock them about when they indeed try to reform. This are some of the issue that need to be highlighted by the Syria opposition in their criticism of the regime and their attempt to reach out to the people at large: “The regime needs to reform, but the corruption of the regime does not allow us to reform, hence the regime must go.”

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