Syrian Unity Must be Protected From Dangers of Lebanonization

Article Summary
The Syrian crisis has destroyed what Syria had built up over decades: its role as a political reference and its identity as a beacon of stability in a turbulent region, writes Talal Salman. It seems to be succumbing to the poison arrows of “Lebanonization,” whereby foreign powers with no interest in Syria’s future incite the flames of violence.

In one year, Syria has lost what it had built up over decades: its vital role as a political reference for the region and its stable security situation in a highly turbulent region. This was stripped from it after the pillars of its national unity were shaken and riddled with the poisoned arrows of “Lebanonization” — that is, the departure of the state and the survival of the regime, the destruction of the people and the rise of the sectarian tide.

Tragically, the past was better than the present, and the future looks bleak, even if the clashes between the army and the people were to come to an end. This used to be presented as a precondition for liberation, and the only hope for the liberation of the people — which at times have taken the form of opposition — in the face of the enemy. This is especially so since the regime’s repression has caused a mounting opposition movement bordering the limit of civil war.

In this case, it is only natural for the people to hold the regime fully responsible for the fate of the nation — in the comprehensive sense of the word — regardless of their stance on the country’s various leaderships. These multiple leaderships along with their orientations and uncertainties cannot help but be called into question, especially since some opposition leaders do not bother to conceal their subordination to outside parties. Some of these external actors have never been known for their love of Syria, or their beliefs in the rights of the Arab peoples to freedom, justice and a better future.

Regardless of the growing number of “suspicious” Arab and foreign leaders — especially neighbors such as Turkey — and the roles they have played in inciting, arming and funding the oppositions and even at times trying to project them as an alternative party in the face of the Syrian regime. The regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to be primarily responsible for the mounting threats to the unity of the people and the state. The leaders of these countries — namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey — have not concealed their commitment to battling the regime to the last Syrian dissident. Granted, they do so despite being aware that their foolish ventures, which reflect deep-seated grudges, might threaten the political and national unity of the Syrian people. While they might be fighting in Syria under the illusion that their actions will isolate their own states from the conflict, in reality, all their meddling does it bring it closer.

It has been proven that the regime’s involvement in fighting those it sees as “armed gangs” has seriously harmed the image and prestige of the state. It has threatened the foundations of national unity, which at one time seemed immune to the weapons of sectarianism, confessionalism and racism.

It took the regime too long to admit to the severity of the crisis it was facing. The situation, which may soon explode throughout the country, has prevailed for far too long. The regime has done little more than initiate an inadequate process of reform that is incapable of restoring the support of a people whose anticipation of a “resolution” has plunged it into the abyss of despair, or forced it to leave the country in order to save their families and their future in any country which “sells” security and safety.

The safety of Syria is being threatened, as is the unity of the state and the nation. Accusations against the opposition that it is threatening the pillars of the state and the unity of the people will do the regime no good. The regime is the one responsible, first and foremost.

Saving Syria is a mission for the whole nation. How can military force be of any good to the regime if it targets the nation and the state?

Syria is about to drown in the abyss of internationalization. This does not safeguard any country, ensure the unity of the people, or protect the internally damaged state.

Protecting the unity of the people and their state should not be seen as compromises on the part of the regime; they are its principal duties. The people are the primary rulers, the unity of the people is the central issue and protecting the state rather than the regime is the sacred mission — that is, if this miserable equation were to be imposed.

The magical solution to the crisis will not drop down on a parachute, and it will not be imported from abroad.

The responsibility is first and foremost that of the regime. The longer it takes the regime to assume this responsibility and confront its own  accomplishments, the longer the nation, people and state will be subject to unlimited dangers.

These dangers will extend beyond Syria to its entire surrounding region, from Lebanon to Jordan to Iraq and even beyond —Turkey might find itself in the same circle. The dangers will extend to the depths of the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf, and will cause a setback for the movement of change in Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the Arab world that is bursting with popular uprisings after long lying in wait.

The final word will be President Bashar al-Assad’s. But dangers are running faster than time, and the fire is spreading and threatening all sides. So will Assad make a courageous move before it is becomes too late to rescue Syria?

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