A Not So Heretical Consensus!

For long time, people who read this blog tended to classify some of my views as reflections of some personal isolated stands, unique only to certain members of the opposition, especially outside of Syria. This, however, is not simply inaccurate, it is downright false.

In reality, Syrian opposition groups, working inside and outside the country, have long adopted certain united stands on many of the issues involved in the struggle for change in Syria. Indeed, ever since the appearance of the Damascus Declaration on the scene and the formation of the National Salvation Front, the political discourse of Syria’s better organized oppositional coalitions has indeed been harmonized. Whether this was done by a careful act of coordination, by an independent assessment of certain realities on the ground, or by a combination of both is something worth wondering about since it might help US officials adopt a better strategy for dealing with Syria in the near future.

Indeed, and by way of connecting certain long-neglected dots, let’s remind here of a certain forgotten sequence of events.

First came the Damascus Declaration, a document authored and adopted by a variety of internal opposition groups and figure, calling for regime change in order to save the country from the adventurist policies of the Assad regime. Then came the formation of the National Salvation Front which subscribed to the Declaration. Third came a conference in Washington D.C. organized by the Syrian National Council, a US-based opposition group. The conference was unique in that it managed to bring several well-known signatories of the Damascus Declaration to take part in it the go back to Syria and communicate with the rest of the signatories. Other notable figures from the Damascus Declaration joined the conference by phone, including Riad Seif (mere days after his release from prison), Walid al-Bunni and Suhair al-Atassy. The fourth step happened a month later when the Syrian National Council threw its lot with former Syrian VP Abdul Halim Khaddam and Muslim Brotherhood leader, Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni, and formed the National Salvation Front.

Now, all that is left to connect all these dots in order to form a harmonious sensible whole is to bring to attention the fact that the various points that have been elaborated by me in my recent two articles have just been elaborated again in a new statement (Arabic) recently released by the Damascus Declaration. The statement condemns the regime’s adventurist policies that made the country get stuck in the bottleneck with no way out in sight, they warn against the regime’s pro-Iran policies, and warn against the regime’s false interest in peace with Israel etc.

So, what does this mean? Simple: the views often elaborated here do not reflect the personal views of some adventurist, as some might paint me, but the consensus of some of Syria’s most respected opposition figures and most organized opposition coalitions both inside and outside the country. As such, and as US policymakers continue to wrangle over the best policy course that needs to be adopted vis-à-vis Syria, the views often elaborated here do warrant serious consideration.

9 thoughts on “A Not So Heretical Consensus!

  1. AmmarThe opposition, as you say, is now more organised and harmonious. It can condemn and make demands, but I still find it really hard to see how a real change of behaviour on the part of the regime, or a regime change, can be brought about without a mass uprising. At present, the regime is empowered by Iran’s political and military cover and it has sufficient financial resources to keep feeding the dense web of security and loyalties that protects it from the masses. I read Khaddam’s New Year statement in which he tries to reach out to the masses and army officers. Neither the message nor the messenger sounded very inspiring or convincing. I do not pretend to have a clear vision or an alternative answer but unless the masses can be inspired and mobilised and a tipping point is reached, no army officer is going to make a move. The Internet, while being an important channel for the opposition to communicate amongst themselves and the rest of the world, is not an effective medium for communicating with ordinary Syrians. I have noted that a number of disaffected Syrians have asked why the opposition could not run its own satellite TV station. I know radio broadcasts can be jammed but not sure is satellite TV signals can too. Perhaps the opposition should look into this as an option.

  2. You are quite correct Philip, the NSF needs to come out with a more savvy media message. Also, we are indeed studying the prospect of establishing a satellite media channel. Hopefully, things will become clearer by this coming summer. I wish things could proceed at a much faster pace, of course. Unfortunately though, these things take time, especially when so many “old school” people are around.

  3. Ammar, Although this is off-topic I hope that you can give me an answer if you can. I was told by a reliable source, but I could not verify the validity of the information, that the current Syrian regime has declared that it intends to start paying compensation to the large land owners whose farm land was confiscated over 40 years ago. If this is true then I do not understand the motive for the move at this point in time. Does the Baath really need the political support of this very small group of individuals and is the Syrian government in a position to make payments totaling $4 Billion?

  4. I think the opposition are doing a great job.Time is not important as long as Syria and Syrian are safe.God bless Syria

  5. Kamal and Shami, thank you and welcome. Ghassan, we have been hearing this rumor for years but nothing has so far taken effect. On the other hand, if there are any immediate plans to do anything along these lines these days, I think only a handful people who are now linked with the regime, one way or another, will ultimately receive anything. This might be meant to bolster the Assads’ standing in certain small yet important circles. The majority of the people who should expect to benefit from this, won’t.

  6. I think it will be very hard to change this regime because this regime has succeed to terrorize the syrian people and the israelis think that regime change in syria will not be in their interests.

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