I send a friendly and affectionate salute to you, a salute to freedom, liberation, and the will of the people, a salute to those who have been patient in the face of injustice and suffering. I would not for a moment presume to explain to you the dimensions and underlying reasons for the current Syrian crisis. Instead I will describe what I believe to be the two faces of the crisis. The first is the large numbers of Syrians who are demanding their rights to freedom, dignity and justice. The second is the tragic consequences of the regime’s unwarranted violence in response to these legitimate and rightful demands.
In an open letter to Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, Syrian writer and human rights activist Michel Kilo implores the party leader to help put an end to the violence in Syria. If the violence continues, he argues, Syria will be reduced to rubble that foreign powers exploit.
An Appeal to Hassan Nasrallah: Preserve the Syrian People
March 26, 2012
The regime unjustifiably claims that the crisis is due to a foreign plot that they must eliminate by any means necessary. The regime’s approach has placed Syria in a position where lethal dangers and repercussions have become commonplace. I will accept the hypothesis that armed elements have used violence against our Syrian military since the beginning of the popular movement. But I cannot accept the claims that the movement was armed and planned from abroad; that the violent and far-reaching official response against gunmen who assassinated officer or soldiers was appropriate; or that there was no other recourse but to turn the machine of repression and violence against Syrian cities dwellers and villagers, dragging the army into bloody confrontations with the people, closing the door of politics and dialogue, and adopting a course that has proven lethal. It is the militants themselves and supporters of violence who have benefited from this approach. They set aside the course of politics and dialogue—even though it enjoyed genuine support among the opposition—and helped to reduce the country to its current state of division, in which the signs of a coming civil war are everywhere.
Weapons and counter-weapons will destroy Syria, its state and society. Those who love Syria and believe in its key regional role must extend a helping hand. They must help to stop the violence, curb extremism, quell sectarians’ and nonsectarians’ thirst for revenge, and disengage the country from its current lethal impasse. In this impasse, the regime has been unable to quell protests or prevent the proliferation of weapons in every home in Syria, the opposition movement has failed to topple the regime, and foreign actors are increasingly able to manipulate and benefit from the crisis. This is particularly true of Israel, which seeks to destroy the Syrian state and society and dominate a broken and war-ridden Levant. Today, daily fighting in the capital, Damascus, is proof that the regime has worn itself out and that its chances of victory are fading fast. Meanwhile, Arabs are announcing a desire to arm the regime’s opponents in order to “break its back” (this expression is not mine, but was made by a Saudi commentator known to have links to the Saudi Royal Palace)—a move that would break the existing fragile balance.
I address you in these difficult times, as I believe that you know better than I the consequences for the Levant should the struggle in Syria worsen, should we be exposed to Israel and America, who seek nothing but to harm us, and should the extremists triumph in the current conflict. It is not in our best interest to become exposed, and the triumph of extremists and sectarians will certainly not work to our advantage. Thus, I believe the time has come for us to join hands in order to achieve a central goal of halting the violence from all sides, as you have already suggested.
I would like to add to this suggestion: We should halt the violence in Syria by finding a solution that will preserve Syria as a state and a society and preserve the rights of all Syrians to live in dignity, justice and security, no matter their allegiance. This solution must also put an end to a 50-year-old ideology that has degenerated into a doctrinal, sectarian, and national dilemma ridden with foreign intervention. If Syria were hit—God forbid—it would be reduced to ruins, even if the regime were to defeat the Syrians who still protest daily in the streets. How will the regime develop when the foundations of its society and state have been undermined? How will it liberate its land? How much time will it need to bridge the gap that separates it from its own people? The number of militants among Syrians is increasing rapidly, and would amount to hundreds of thousands of people if they had access to weapons. It thus seems dubious that the Syrian regime could forcefully stifle the will of the people. This dire outlook does not even take into account the foreign meddling into the country's affairs, whereby international actors would take control of the country's resources and people were they to determine the outcome of the Syrian crisis.
Should this conflict persist, it will lead to the demise of Syria as a state and society. I remember back in 2003, when you called upon Iraqis to support their regime against the US aggression and invasion of Iraq, despite the regime’s brutal actions against its people. I am well aware that you bet on states and societies rather than on regimes and peoples. Thus, I call upon you, in the name of our common destiny, to take the initiative to end the bloodshed in Syria. I call upon you to search for a solution that would protect the people’s destiny. We shall join hands to end all foreign intervention and to save the lives of Syrians, including women, men, children and the elderly. We must seek to ensure Syria’s unity as a state and a society and maintain the equations of the current conflict between us and the enemy in the Levant, before foreign intervention takes its toll on us and wreaks all kinds of havoc on Syria
Although time is quickly running out, it is not too late. Ending the violence is Syria requires action on all levels. This might be our last opportunity. We should not let it slip through our fingers. We must act immediately. Regret and remorse will accomplish nothing.
I express, once again, my deep respect to you as a great leader. I am confident that you respect the rights of the Syrian people to live in freedom, dignity and justice. I am well aware that you are keen to preserve Syria as a state and as a society. And I trust your admiration and love of the Syrian people. They will not let you down, as they are well aware of the major role you played in protecting and preserving their homeland.