Syrian opposition must unite

The Syrian opposition has been plagued by division and internal rifts and must work on uniting the various factions and being inclusive.

al-monitor Ahmed Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition opposition group, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Bayan Palace in Kuwait, Dec. 8, 2013.  Photo by REUTERS/Jassim Mohammed.

Topics covered

syrian revolution, syrian regime, syrian civil war, syrian-russian relations, snc, internationalization of the syrian conflict, geneva ii

Dec 19, 2013

The Syrian revolution is in a precarious situation. Revolutionary powers and armed groups are scattered, the Syrian National Coalition is weak, the role of the Free Syrian Army and its commanders is dwindling and the revolution’s popular base is being depleted. This decline in popular support is due not only to the fighting, blockades, displacement and refugee situations, but also the uncertainty that has characterized the opposition’s behavior. Add to this the stances of those countries friendly to the revolution that provided inconsistent support, which worsened the split among the opposition and wasted its efforts as they competed to control the opposition, notably the armed groups. The revolution has created contradictions and conflicts, compounding the hardships caused by the brutality of the regime and its allies and the lack of experience and military supplies.

The struggle and competition among supporting countries and the attempts to subordinate opposition figures and take advantage of them to corner rival countries, in addition to the proposals of specific options and visions and the endeavors to apply them on revolution circles through financial and military pressure have torn the opposition even further apart. The opposition faced disparities in options, stances and plans, and was dragged down a gloomy path.

Also, the negative impact of the practices of the new jihadist movements — notably the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) — must not be disregarded, and one must take into consideration that these movements are influenced by the Syrian regime, Iran and Russia. These three powers orient some of the plans of these movements to serve the interests of the regime and instill fear from the repercussions of the revolution and its victory into foreign powers supporting the revolution.

The practices of jihadist movements have weakened the chances of the revolution to succeed and broken down society into two categories: one supporting these movements and another that considers them as disastrous as the regime. The variety of powers, countries and plans on the Syrian scene has further complicated the situation and created contradictions and discrepancies within the popular revolutionary movement. This has made gains minor in comparison to the sacrifices and the material and human losses.

Furthermore, the proposed initiative of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party to establish autonomous rule in Kurdish areas has added more doubts in terms of the revolution's ability to preserve the unity of the Syrian land and to save the country. This has raised questions about the future of the revolution, the country, the land and the people.

The revolution itself is in need of its own revolution to correct its path, especially amid talks about holding the Geneva II conference. The revolution should be presented in a better light as an organized, strong power. Also, a broad and balanced coalition should be established to work on correcting this path and spreading optimism and positiveness to boost the popular and revolutionary energy toward the victory of the revolution and the achievement of its goals. The coalition must have a national background to:

  1. be aligned with the revolution and express this alignment through striving to unite the powers, coordinating on a daily basis and working jointly to find appropriate solutions for problems and obstacles. This should involve proposing ideas and plans and creating tactics.
  2. hold on to the national aspect of the revolution, given that it is a revolution for all Syrians. It should preserve national unity through daily practice and emphasize the national cohesion of the Syrian people and that the new Syria is a state for all its citizens.
  3. stick to the main goals of the revolution: freedom and dignity. It should work on moving the country from the state of tyranny to democracy through toppling the regime with all its pillars and figures by using all available political and military tools.
  4. base the process of democratic national change on building a modern civil state, laying its foundation on a social contract represented in a new constitution drafted by an elected assembly. The constitution should serve as a base for the regime, ensuring equal rights for all citizens and specifying their duties, free from nationalistic, religious and sectarian discrimination. It should also guarantee plurality, power rotation, the independence of the judiciary system, the sovereignty of the law, administrative decentralization and respect for human rights and related international agreements.
  5. work toward making Syria, with its new democratic civil regime, the best guarantee for the security and safety of all Syrian national, religious and sectarian segments; solving the national issue of non-Arabs, namely Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Syriac and Armenians, in a just and democratic way as part of Syria’s unity.
  6. work to make the new Syria a positive state and a real source of stability in its Arab, regional and international environment.

The agreement of revolutionary, civil and military powers on the essence and outlines of these principles can play a key role in galvanizing the revolutionaries and the popular base not to be distracted by details and discrepancies, which may adversely affect what can be achieved. Instead, we should focus on reinforcing the revolution of our people, guaranteeing its security and safety and offering the best performance possible. This way, we can face the urgent and changing situations, contribute to the achievement of the goals of the revolution and move Syria from tyranny toward freedom and democracy.

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