Posted by Joshua on Sunday, October 22nd, 2006
Michel Kilo, Syria's leading secular opposition spokesman and activist, will not be released from jail. This is what I am told by a reliable source. There must be a battle over his release within the Syria regime.Michel Kilo has been the leader of the Syrian opposition's drive to unify its ranks and become an effective political vehicle over the last two years. After Rafiq al-Hariri's murder he led the effort to get the "Damascus Declaration" written and approved by the many factions of the opposition. It was the instrument that brought together the Muslim Brotherhood and secular groups for the first time. He traveled to Morocco to meet the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Bayanuni and get his approval for the text of the agreement. He shopped it around to the many opposition groups, many of whom reworked sections of it. In the end, although many Syrian leaders had shaped the document and played important roles in making sure it was agreed upon, Michel Kilo was the master of ceremonies. It was his vision, patience, and skill in accommodating all that brought it together.I am not sure if his role in putting together the Beirut-Damascus Declaration was as central, but I suspect it was. It was following the appearance of this document that Kilo and 9 other signers were arrested last May. Eight of the original 10 of those arrested have been freed, but Kilo and Anwar al-Bunni, Syria's leading human rights activist, remain imprisoned.
Now that Syria has come through the Lebanon War unscathed, it would seem that Kilo and Bunni could be released by the regime, as a gesture of regal beneficence following victory. After all, the March 14 crowd in Lebanon has been discredited in Syria by the war. It is no longer a threat to the Syrian regime, having been weakened by the United States, its primary benefactor. When Syrians saw Washington turn against the Siniora government and Hariri bloc by helping Israel destroy the advances the Hariri team had made in Lebanon over the last decade, they lost their desire to emulate the March 14 strategy of relying of Washington. Washington proved once again that it is not a reliable partner for Arabs. Because of this, Michel Kilo should be freed; if for no other reason than the Syrian opposition has been weakened by this summer's war. President Asad should be gracious in victory.
On Friday, it was announced that Kilo's release was being postponed due to some silly reason, but this seems to be an indication of greater troubles.