First of all, I would like to say thank you to all the people who supported my decision to withdraw from the NSF and sympathized with my main motivations in this regard, even if they were somewhat vaguely stated.
This said, however, I think a few clarifications are in order:
Firs, I am not given up blogging or activism. Hell, if I did that, I won’t just be a sellout and a coward, I’ll be an idiot too. I mean, we are just coming out of a very important transitional phase with our activities at Tharwa, for all the limited resources we have (believe me, despite some persistent rumors, they are limited, especially considering the scope of work we have to do).
Indeed, our regional network of activists continues to expand on an almost daily basis, with the seeds for full-fledged chapters now sown in a number of countries throughout the region. Moreover, back in April, we launched something that, I trust, will keep me busy for the rest of my life (or, to be more realistic, for as long as we can get the necessary resources for it), namely: the Tharwa Institute for Democratic Leadership, of which I’ll have more things to say in the future.
And of course, we cannot forget our recent success in monitoring the parliamentary elections and the presidential referendum in Syria, and for organizing a major grassroots boycott of both events. For indeed, and despite all the regime-organized theatrics, which naturally fooled a lot of people who wanted to be fooled, a real grassroots boycott of both events, yes, even the referendum, did take place, and the people who helped produce these feats are still there in Syria preparing for what comes after. No, it won’t be a revolution, but it will be a serious grassroots effort to challenge the increasing mismanagement, corruption, and arrogance of the regime, even now, in these inauspicious and dangerous times.
The ability for the external opposition to modernize itself, its message its operations, its basic structure, would have been a welcome development at this stage, and would have been extremely helpful for the activists inside in the weeks and months to come. Instead, we get more of the same. Naturally, I was frustrated, and drained: I put a lot of effort into trying to make things work in this regard. But, I was not surprise. Yes, my disillusionment was predicted by me as well, and not just by some of my detractors (who seem more gleeful than the event warrants really).
I repeatedly said on this blog that I do what I do in the face of my growing cynicism, and I made no secret with regard to my misgivings about taking part in oppositional work. But I needed to experiment with this matter, I guess, some things you just have to see and try for yourself: the practical insight is far superior to the theoretical one.
But, what does it mean to be disillusioned at this stage? Does it mean that I am now busy trying to ingratiate myself to some figures in the regime in order to get back “home” where, for once, I could try in the good graces of the regime? Or does it mean that I may now be more willing to engage in the seemingly benign activities that will move me out of harm’s way?
Well to those who think that I might even contemplate such disastrous courses of action, all I can say is that they really don’t know me. Everything about me simply militates against such “possibilities.” Everything.
I don’t believe in dualities, or think along linear lines. The decisions ahead me can never be reduced to a choice between the regime and the opposition, so that when I get disillusioned with one side I simply move to the other. Also, the fact that I am willing to embark on some internal review process does not mean that I am going to find the Assads engageable all of a sudden, especially at a time when they are living up consistently and constantly to my worst expectations of them.
No, I can never be “open-minded” in this regard. Hell, I cannot even be “open-minded” enough to accept cooperating with people who remain “open-minded” in this regard. People who think that their “open-mindedness” here can serve the country and the national interest are dead wrong. It can only serve the particularistic interests of the regime, and it might admittedly server their own personal interests a well, but then, this would make them more opportunists than idealists, wouldn’t it?, at least when they insist on staying the course.
Meanwhile, and for those who think I looked too depressed and worn-out in my last photo, which is indeed the image I was trying to convey, which is why I used an older photo dating back to January 2006, here is a more recent one of me and Khawla, taken just last week at the Great Falls in Maryland.
And here is a link to a recent profile of me and a blogging buddy in Newsweek.