Posted by Joshua on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
The opposition meeting scheduled to take place in Turkey in four days (May 30) has brought out divisions among leaders of the Syrian uprising. A meeting of some 400 opposition members in Washington on Tuesday also brought some unity. The opposition is divided over the proper role foreign governments should play in bringing down the Syrian regime. Some believe that only foreign action – primarily sanctions as presently articulated – will destroy the Syrian government. One advocates an Israeli role in the destruction of the regime.
A growing divide between those inside the country and outside is developing as well. This is suggested by Burhan Ghalioun’s refusal to go to the Turkey meeting of the opposition. [See translation of his reasons below]
Some 400 Syrian American opposition members gathered in Washington DC on Tuesday 24 May for a first-of-its-kind day of lobbying, rallies, and planning sessions to support freedom and dignity for the people of Syria who are struggling against their government for self-determination. [see more about this meeting at Mideast Report by Tic Root]
Authors at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy propose ways they believe that Sunni soldiers can been persuaded to defect from the Syrian Army. They recognize that so long as the military remains loyal to the president and government, the opposition cannot succeed. Because they do not envisage Alawite officers turning on the regime, they list ways to convince “Sunni members of the Syrian military [to] oust the ruling family.” They advocate that “Washington should begin an active dialogue with the members of the National Initiative for Change.” The principle authors of this program are Radwan Ziadeh, Ausama Monajed, Ammar Abdalhamid, Najib Ghadbian. See more here.
Radwan Ziadeh, 35, US-based head of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights. Ziadeh is a human rights lobbyist, author of 13 books and visiting scholar at George Washington University in the US, where he fled to in 2007 after being threatened with arrest. He has been monitoring deaths and human rights abuses during the protests, including in his home town of Daraya close to Damascus. He has tried, with limited success, to bring the opposition and activists together through a new alliance, the National Initiative for Change.
Anas Al Abdeh, Chairman of the Movement for Justice & Development in Syria and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Damascus Declaration in Diaspora, said that “Europe, and France in particular, has a responsibility to apply direct and strong pressure on the Syrian regime.”
Ausama Monajed laments that Western government are not exploiting the opportunity at hand to divide Syria from Iran and Hizbullah when “protesters have increasingly adopted an anti-Iranian and anti-Hizbollah line.”
Burhan Ghalioun, a leading Syrian opposition intellectual, refuses to go to Turkey Opposition meeting, claiming it will be used by foreign interests. He wrote this on Wednesday, May 25, 2011
إلى أخواني الذين يسألوني عن أسباب عدم حضوري مؤتمر انطاليا أو يتساءلون عنها، أقول إنني أتفهم تعطش شباب الثورة إلى عنوان سياسي يشكل مرجعا لهم وذراعا سياسيا يصد عنهم ضربات سلطة العسف والعنف العاري وحامل لرسالتهم أمام الرأي العام العريي والعالمي. وجوابي أنه لو كان لدي ثقة ولو قليلة على أن هذا المؤتمر يخدم بالفعل هذه الأهداف أو بعضها لما ترددت لحظة في انضمامي إليه. لكنه ليس كذلك. هو بجمع بين الكثير ممن يريد أن يستفيد من الثورة ويستغلها لخدمة أجندات خاصة، ومنها أجنبية لسوء الحظ، وقليل جدا ممن يفكر بالفعل في خدمتها والتضحية من أجلها. هذا هو تقديري على الأقل. وكان إعلانه مفاجأة لي لأنمنظميه كانوا على اتصال بي وكنت قد وعدتهم بأننا نعمل مع الداخل لبلورة مبادرة جامعة. مع الاعتراف بأن بطء الداخل قد أساء لنا أيضا وفتح الباب أمام مثل هذه المبادرات الضعيفة والمليئة بالمفاجآت غير السارة
To my brothers who ask me about the reasons for not attending the Conference in Antalya, I say that I understand the thirst of youth to address a political revolution ……. My answer is that if I had confidence that this conference would serve these goals, I would not hesitate in joining them. But it does not. It is a collection of many of those who want to benefit from and exploit the revolution to serve private agendas, including, unfortunately, foreign agendas. Unfortunately, very few of those participating are really interested in serving the revolution or sacrificing for it. That is estimation of the meeting at least. The announcement of the meeting was a surprise to me because those who announced it were in contact with me. I had promised them that we were working to develop an initiative with those within Syria though a common initiative. We recognize that the slow pace of progress created difficulties and open the door to such initiatives such as these that are weak and full of unpleasant surprises.
Burhan Ghalioun, 65, professor of political sociology at the Sorbonne, Paris – One of Syria’s respected intellectuals in exile, the academic Ghalioun has become a very public face of the uprising through numerous television and radio interviews. The author of 20 works, including The Arab Malaise, he is known for his strong opinions expressed in a calm, logical manner. He insists the leadership must come from the young people on the ground, but they require the outside help of people such as himself to keep media attention.
Here is a question from a reporter that underscores the divisions among Syrian opposition leaders
Who is the core of the Syrian opposition? I noticed that there are some divergence inside them. For example, Anas Al Abdeh, president of the London-based Movement for Justice and Development said that “Europe, and France in particular, has a responsibility to apply a direct and strong pressure on the Syrian regime so that it will halt the killing of innocents” . At his side were two other opposition leaders, Sarkis Sarkis of the Arab Socialist Movement, and Abdulhamid Alatassi of the Syrian Democratic People’s Party.
At the same time, Farid Ghadry, leader of the opposition Reform Party of Syria said that “The Syrians are waiting to see who is on their side…This is an opportunity for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, to do something.”He also said that Israelis should remain in the Golan even though it must return to Syria. How do you assess these different proposals? It seems that the oppositions are seeking for more foreign supports than winning over the domestic merchant and middle class.
Sarkis Sarkis Arab Socialist Movement, member of the Damascus Declaration and member of the National Democratic Rally in Syria
Abdulhamid Alatassi Representative of the Syrian Democratic People’s Party in France and member of the Secretariat-General of the Damascus Declaration in Diaspora
Anas Alabdeh Chairman of the Movement for Justice & Development in Syria and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Damascus Declaration in Diaspora
Ausama Monajed writes in his : “Syrian Revolution News Round-up” Day 71: Tuesday, 24 May 2011
“Could the U.S. waste another historic opportunity in the Middle East! Over the last few weeks, protesters have increasingly adopted an anti-Iranian and anti-Hizbollah line, the question is why western leaders are ignoring the opportunity at hand?”
Ghassan al-Muflih on the Antalya meeting – He is another leader of the opposition
Profiles of five people who are emerging as possible leaders of the Syrian rebellion
Interview with Joshua Landis, Director of the Centre for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Reports mention financial sanctions, and, as far as I understand, these would come in the form of asset freezes and travel bans on the government figures, am I correct?
Source: Voice of Russia.
Syria opposition battles rising frustration and internal divisions: Disorganisation and splits within activists’ ranks said to deter others from joining movement.
Nidaa Hassan in Damascus, guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 May 2011
Syria’s anti-government protesters are battling against internal divisions and growing frustration as the movement against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, now in its third month, appears to have reached a stalemate…..
There is disagreement about whether or not to negotiate with the government, what tactics to adopt for the street protests, and even whether the demonstrations began too soon.
“Maybe we should have waited and got better organised before we took to the streets,” said one protester in his 20s in the central city of Homs. A middle-aged woman whose son is out protesting said she offered to send him to Egypt to learn from activists but “he and his friends were so enthused by the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia they couldn’t wait”.
But others said they had to take the opportunity presented by the initial victories of the Arab spring.
Many in urban centres are disconnected from a mainly rural uprising, and tribal groups have their own specific codes, requiring revenge for bloodshed, said a diplomat in Damascus.
When on 13 May the government said it would open a national dialogue – a pledge that looks increasingly insincere – opposition figures took different stances.
Older veteran figures such as Louay Hussein, an Alawite writer who met presidential emissaries, advocated negotiations.
But others, such as Razan Zeitouneh, a 35-year-old lawyer and activist, rejected any form of contact.
“I am adamantly opposed to dialogue before all violence is stopped and all political prisoners are released,” she said.
This disorganisation has alienated some of those who would have joined the protest movement. Two months of action have polarised Syrians.
…Those advocating change encompass all ages, levels of education and religions but predominantly young men are taking to the streets. “I fear people see young men in tracksuits or look at people coming out in rural areas and don’t see it as a movement that they relate to,” said the middle-aged woman….
In Syria, the revolution is uncertain.
Video by Grant Slater
KPCC Video and Photo, Southern California Public Radio – Interviews with Syrians on both sides of the revolutionary divide in California. This film should be seen in tandem with reading this article about the same people.
American sanctions against Syria 25.05.2011
“You can’t ignore the timing,” said Albright. “Syria is politically weaker than it was six months ago, and it might be easier to muster the votes at the [IAEA] board to refer this to the Security Council.”
Albright is a weapon inspector who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington arms control watchdog. “This is laying down the gauntlet against Syria.”
One of President Assad’s rare progressive initiatives, an effort to open Syria’s economy has come to a halt under domestic protests and international sanctions, threatening to add to the country’s political woes DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian President …
Envisioning Syria’s Political Future – Obstacles and Options Tuesday 14 June 2011 18:00 to 19:00 Location Chatham House, London Participants Ammar Abdulhamid, Syrian Human Rights activist, author, dissident and founder of The Tharwa Foundation …
The New Yorker’s Steve Coll looks at the past decade of oppressive rule by the Assad regime and argues that the time for Washington to negotiate has passed. The Damascus Spring of 2001 was so called because Syrian democrats hoped that President …
Witness: Shattered humanity inside Syria’s security apparatus
By Suleiman al-Khalidi – Thu May 26, Reuters
AMMAN (Reuters) – The young man was dangling upside down, white, foaming saliva dripping from his mouth. His groans sounded more bestial than human…..
Hizbullah leader, Hasan Nasrallah talking about Syria: خطاب السيد حسن نصر الله الجزء الثالث سوريا
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Friday unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] to uphold a $413 million judgment against Syria for assisting in the the murders of two US contractors. In 2004, two …
Obama’s Push-Pull Strategy: How Washington Should Plan for a Post-Assad Syria
By Andrew J. Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Mara Karlin ForeignAffairs.com, May 25, 2011
Washington can take several concrete steps to help bring the Syrian crisis and the Asad regime to a peaceful end.
Assad is now caught in a dilemma: He can continue relying on his fellow Alawite security chiefs and the minority system they dominate to persecute the predominately Sunni protesters, or he can enact deep political reforms that could convince the protesters to return home but would end the Alawite-led system on which he so heavily relies. Either way, the Assad regime as it has existed for more than four decades is disintegrating.
Now, to follow through on his bold declaration last week, Obama and his advisers must plan for a Syria without the Assad regime as it currently exists. To do so, Washington should try to push Assad from power while pulling in a new leadership.
…..Obama must go even further than he did in his speech last week and publicly state that Assad must go. ……
Sanctions are another way to weaken Assad’s already loosening grip on power. ….
The United States could also exploit the vulnerability of Syria’s oil sector, …. Washington should press EU member states to …ban …. the Commercial Bank of Syria,…..The bank is known to keep a portion of its approximately $20 billion in hard currency reserves in short-term accounts at European banks. ……
Furthermore, the United States could invoke some combination of the remaining tenets of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act. (The act was first enacted by Congress in 2003 to sanction Syria for its pernicious meddling in Iraq and Lebanon, support for terror groups, and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.) Those tenets include a ban on U.S. investment in Syria, a ban on the travel of Syrian diplomats beyond a 25-mile radius of Washington and New York, and a downgrading of diplomatic relations.
…a united front would show Arab allies, most notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt (both of which have no love for Assad), that Washington is serious about its “push” strategy and could entice them to actively join the anti-Assad bandwagon. Also, a concerted, multilateral effort against the Assad regime would help strip away Russian and Chinese objections to a UN Security Council resolution …
…. Syrian military officers (some of whom are Sunni) as well as the army’s enlisted rank and file (which is largely Sunni) could be convinced to question seriously Assad’s ability to survive. This would help raise the possibility of Sunni members of the Syrian military stepping in to save the country by ousting the ruling family.
As the United States works to push Assad from power, it should also be looking to pull in new political forces to replace him. Above all else, Syrians themselves must be at the forefront of any regime change in Damascus. Washington should, therefore, begin an active dialogue with the members of the National Initiative for Change,…
Washington should focus on bringing about a government led by the country’s Sunni majority, which would naturally create considerable tension with or a break in Syria’s alliance with Shiite-dominated Iran…
The Obama administration could fashion an Arab consensus by portraying a change in Syria as fatal for Iranian interests in the Levant. Despite Saudi-American tensions in recent months, there would be much sympathy with this approach in Riyadh, helping to unlock Gulf skepticism. What bothers the Saudis is that they see an Obama administration without any discernible strategy to contain Iranian power. An American initiative to use the Syrian crisis as a means of countering the influence of Iran and Hezbollah could reverse this sentiment. It would likely also earn considerable support from Egypt, which views Iran as a major spoiler on the Palestinian front.
Unrest chills investment in Syria, economy falters
Thu May 26, 2011, By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
* Qatar real estate firm halts large project in Damascus
* UAE engineering company pulls out of protest hotspot Homs* Economy seen shrinking 3 pct after 4 pct growth in 2010
* Capital flight detected since street turmoil began
AMMAN, May 26 (Reuters) – Political unrest has stymied three major Gulf investment projects in Syria and harmed efforts to attract capital needed to boost the economy after decades of Soviet-style controls, business figures say.
Decree on Adding Additional Marks to Exam Results of University Students May 26, 2011 http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2011/05/26/349006.htm DAMASCUS, (SANA)- President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday issued Decree No. 203 for 2011 which provides for …