Syrian Activists Seek Ray of Hope In Opposition Conference
By: Tariq el-Abd Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
Finding a glimpse of hope has become a task of the utmost difficulty for the Syrian public. The Syrian situation engenders wide pessimism. Even those who were expecting an end soon are now reconsidering their opinions and getting ready for more difficult phases, amid weak international political positions and continued divisions among the opposition.
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The armed Syrian opposition is splintering, with the gulf between factions getting wider, writes Tariq el-Abd. He asks several Syrian activists what the prospects are for a political settlement to the wider conflict as well as for an upcoming opposition conference.Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
Syrian Street Looks for a Glimpse of Hope Opposition Divided and Violence Ousts "Solution Initiatives"
Author: Tariq el-Abd
First Published: September 7, 2012
Posted on: September 7 2012
Translated by: Sami-Joe Abboud and Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Syria
However, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) does not seem any better. There are news of fights erupting between the battalions, and attempts on the part of parties to nominate a military council, while insisting that this council would be the sole representative of all the factions of the armed opposition. It should be noted that some opposition battalions have specialized arms, while others are causing massacres and carrying out operations that contribute to a decrease in the number of their supporters.
On the other hand, i.e. politically, the gap is widening between internal and external opposition forces, as well as between those making efforts to reach unity on the one hand and others excluding anyone who disagrees with them on the other.
Amid all of this, the public inside Syria is also divided between those who are in favor of a political solution, and those who are in favor of a military solution, preferring options proposed by the opposition outside of Syria. Despite all of this, everyone agrees that violence has reached an unbearable level and that the main priority should be to stop the bloodshed, which is affecting Syrians in various towns and villages.
As-Safir has polled a number of Syrian public activists about the suggested political options.
Omar, a field activist, does not seem very optimistic about the opposition conference to be held in Damascus next week, as a result of the continuous divisions among the ranks of the opposition. While the National Coordination Committee (NCC) announced an initiative to stop violence while seeking to hold a conference that brings together all opposition parties, the Syrian National Council (SNC) is still determined to consider itself the sole representative of the Syrian people. It even invited the rest of the opposition parties to join it and work under its banner.
Meanwhile, the SNC is determined that the NCC is an opposition group seeking dialogue with the regime, which has been repeatedly denied by the members of the committee. However, this led the committee to lose a lot of credit among the public because of accusations of treason leveled by the supporters of the SNC and other external opposition movements, thus increasing divisions. Therefore, there is no point in holding any conference as long as there is a continuous split in the ranks of the opposition, knowing that this will only lead to further delay.
The youth activist noted that that the opposition forces are still determined to ignore "revolutionary forces" on the ground, despite their constant talk about the need for activists to participate in the making of the opposition’s political decisions, thus increasing the gap between the opposition and the public and contributing to the prolongation of the crisis.
According to an activist in the popular movement, what is important in this period is not political action. He says: "We have begun to see that the Syrian opposition is gaining ground.” He added that "the political opposition is the one to blame, as it has thus far not established any real plan for the next phase in Syria in order to primarily convince the West and garner the approval of the Syrian people. If this happens, I think that many things would become easy, and we can then watch the regime fall with the least possible losses, but this has not happened so far.”
The guy believes that “in the coming period, things will be determined by the movements of the FSA. Thus, the greater success the FSA makes on the ground, the greater the pressure will be on the political opposition to unite and form a transitional government, and I do not think that the NCC conference will achieve anything new in light of these moves.”
Abdul Rahman, an activist from Damascus, believes that "the public is not counting on the initiative of the NCC, or the internal opposition conference, to achieve much. This is because there has been no real change in the attitudes of the leaders, so I do not think this conference will achieve anything new. Moreover, it does not include any real solution to the current situation."
Abdul Rahman added that following the recent statements of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who noted that the regime will not be the party that starts the cease-fire, and in the absence of the authorities' commitment to all aspects of the previous truce, "I do not think that the rebels will trust the regime. Thus, the initiative is dead in my opinion in the absence of any real change in the Russian position and the position of the government in Damascus. I also doubt that such change will currently happen.”
Other positions of public activists are more optimistic regarding the success of the internal opposition’s efforts. Maha, a peace activist who shares the same opinion, explained: “I am relying on the NCC’s conference. We are currently focusing our efforts on this conference and we are calling for effective international protection for the conference, so that foreign-based opposition activists can participate. We seek a large number of foreign-based members so that they can interact with the internal opposition.”
She added: “The conference would certainly focus on solutions based on the vision of the internal opposition members. They are inside, they are the ones who suffer the most and they are the ones who can see things in a better way.”
Maha continued: “We support the initiatives that go in line with the body’s principles and ideas and we still hope to implement the Egyptian initiative. In addition, the mission of the International Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is backed by the international community.”
However, the activist does not expect much from the opposition’s performance and political line. She said: “In light of these developments, we cannot predict anything. This is especially true given that the two sides have resorted to violence, only making the Syrian crisis more complex and failing to resolve it. The regime and the opposition have both armed themselves and they actively oppose any political solution. However, we see that seeking a political solution is necessary to at least break the cycle of violence, and we hope to find such a solution. The only thing we can do is to try, because we are sure that violence will only destroy the country and dismantle Syrian society. No solution will be looming on the horizon if the violent approach is maintained in resolving the crisis.”
Another activist and member of the NCC defends the internal opposition’s initiative, noting that “the initiative developed by the NCC was supposed to be completed before the Eid al-Fitr holiday (marking the end of Ramadan), which did not happen for reasons everybody knows.”
He added: “The primary objective of the initiative is to stop the bloodshed and relieve afflicted and displaced citizens; this is a pure humanitarian objective and no one can logically object to it. We are depending on the conference — which is being convened by the NCC and a variety of opposition blocks — to save Syria and reject violence as an option for bringing down the regime. We view this conference as the last attempt to stop the bloodshed and systematic destruction of the Syrian people and homeland. For me, it is the last hope to save the nation from a comprehensive civil war that is clearly starting to loom on the horizon.”
He continued: “The war of today is insane and criminal; its victims are those who are killed merely to feed the fighting and not those who die in the battlefields. Everyone who claims to be attached to the Syrian blood, unity and unity of the Syrian land has supported the conference and will ensure that all means of success are available.”
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