Off the Wall on Ghalioun’s Eid Speech

Off the Wall, who has begun writing a key blog on Syria, wrote this about a friend’s comment on Burhan Ghalioun’s Eid speech. It is worth copying in full.

  1. Dear All,
    Here is my detailed response to Joshua’s Friend’s comments, which i think were very sympathetic to the revolution. I will get probably get some heat for this, but we are not here only to pat each others on the back. We are here to make future, And unlike the dull, predictable monotonic past, the future is full of politics, strategic calculations, and tactical steps. If judged this way, we can see clearer focus on the strategy and understand the tactical positions as long as they don’t compromise the fundamental principles.

    1- The books on the left and the flag on the right is smart.

    True, the flag however got some criticism from some die-hards who wanted him to put the flag of independent. I personally think that the flag was a way to assure the undecided that he is not breaking with some of the constants they have depended on for 5 decades. Smart move. The revolution crowd will forgive that.

    2- He looked me in the eye and spoke to the camera

    Absolutely. Fully agree.

    3- Not reading from a text made him look smart. He was also firm and serious

    Also not diverting into useless casualness and sophistry made him look determined in addition to being smart.

    4- The rape comment was unnecessary, inaccurate and tribal

    Fully agree. I hated it. Many will take offense as well

    5- Kurds are not the only relevant minority he should have talked about. The Alawi minority is by far the most critical. He missed his chance to drive a wedge between Bashar and his sect. He needed to assure the Alawis that this is not about them but about the leadership. He ought to have assured them that he and the SNC will do everything to assure their safety. He should have also talked to the Christians and said that this area was christian before the arrival of Islam and that everything will be done to ensure that they stay and add to the mosaic of Syrian society.

    Yes and no. Yes on long-term conceptual framework and from national unity, human rights, civil rights, and equality points of view. But not necessarily on short-term essential building and chipping at the peripheries of regime’s potential capacity to weaken the revolution. Here is why

    True the Kurds are not the only minority, but they are a minority that has been oppressed by the Baath system. Recent events showed that Kurdish parties are split and that split has prevented the Kurds from joining the revolution in droves. His recent problem with the Kurds had to be overcome, and Burhan’s apology needed to be reinforced. If he (i.e., SNC) manages to build up momentum of Kurds participation, the SNC will deal a big blow to the regime in the northeast, as well as in and around Aleppo (Damascus Kurds are already in the revolution). Supporting the Kurds with such strong language that singled them out is far more efficient (for now) than working on Alawites, or even Christians. For the Alawites, those who are likely to support the revolution are already in its camp and support him (more on that later). The others are not all silent majority and many are clearly against the revolution and will be swayed far less by a single speech than by recognition of the inevitable and essential demise of Assad being in their own interest. Similarly, as for the Christians, it is also very sad sad that some of them have taken themselves out of the immediate political equation and calculation by insisting on several unnecessary litmus tests, knowing before hand that they are in no condition to extract concessions from any side and that insisting on certain things make them look more like protecting privileged position than seeking equality, and some of them even went as far as showing great hostility to the revoluytion (if the posters on Syria Comment are any reflection of that….). Furthermore, and similar to the Alawites, those who support the revolution are already with it and do not need assurances, while those who do not support revolution will not do so from a single speech. This is all tactical for now. The strategic position is equality for all, which was highlighted in the speech as well.

    The primary objective of this speech is to address the SNC’s politically independent base. He needed to do so as facebook, blogs, and even personal conversations with friends in his camp were recently full of warning that he needs to show leadership and stop focusing on the outside and pay attention to the inside and to supporters in the diaspora who are yearning for demonstrable leadership. Solidifying the base will likely attract even much needed financial support from Syrian community (they refuse any other support for now). The primary goal is the continuity and sustainability of the peaceful protest and their expansion into near-allies group, but not necessarily gaining converts at this stage. This was calculated, i believe, and it will most likely provide the results he and his team wanted. Bringing the silent Kurds in, and blocking the wheeling and dealing leadership of some Kurdish Parties from using the regime’s fake concession as means to continue holding the mass of the Kurds outside the revolution.

    that said, he still addressed the reluctant and fearful without naming sects. Had he started naming sects, and addressing each, the speech would have lost its effectiveness as a show of presence and became apologetic and defensive. This is not a position that the SNC can afford now. It does not mean that the fears are not legitimate or are to be discounted.

    6- He stole my line on the black tunnel (not fair).
    No Comment

    7- He should have ended by promising more appearances that would further explain to the Syrian people where he and the SNC stand on constitutional and other important matters.

    Absolutely. One good thing he did though was to say that things can’t be done in matter of days. This is also a response to base camp questions about the pace of things at SNC.

    8- This was his first real breakaway from the pack in an attempt to establish himself as the leader of the opposition.

    It was agreed on by many in the pack, if I know anything about SNC and its difficult birth. Part of the slowness is that they really wanted to have a good representation of the opposition, which made them wait for response (naming reps) from some groups. It would have been nicer to have more support form a couple of internal groups, by my knowledge some are playing dirty .

    9- He did well enough but hardly a slam dunk (i rate it at 6 out of 10).

    For sure not a slam dunk in the sense of getting reluctant Aleppo out to the street, but slam dunk in doing what is expected from him, which is to address the SNC constituents. Look them in the eye, and tell them that he will not be dragged into games by the regime. Dalila was indirectly supportive in the following interview, when he asked how can we have dialog when blood still flows and when 3 Million Syrians can not go inside because of their opinion and not due to crimes they committed. Aref Dalila has indirectly thrown his moral support to the SNC even if not becoming a member of its leadership.

    It is a slam dunk in terms of paradigm shift of political speech in the Arab region. This is the first political speech I heard that did not mention Zionism and the conspiracy of enemies of Syria (or whatever country subject of speech). This is very much despite of Burhan’s own anti-Zionist stance and clear strong commitment to Palestinians. There are priorities, and Syria is now the priority. I am also hoping for speeches and or statement that would address several issues like the economy, social issues, and sustainable development and so on…

    10- While it is easy to criticise the man and his group, they are chipping away at the formidable power that has ruled this country unopposed for 4 decades.

    Far more than they know. Believe me, this revolution is big. Most of the educated outside the country support it, and some of the most brilliant youth are working days and nights for its success. The regime is running against a power it can not understand or imagine. It has played some cunning tricks that gave it back some of the upper hand in matters of security but that is due to the ubiquitous presence of its spies in all strata of society allowing it to register some infiltration as well as through its financial situation and control of communication infrastructure and use of technology which seems to be smarter than what one would have expected. But this will not continue as infiltrators as getting exposed now by folks who are adding one to one. And counter measures that rely on low-tech are being developed that tech will not help with.

    11- As to free elections to determine the outcome, Bashar has to decide whether to roll the dice and drop article 8 in favour of that or not. I stand by my stand that he will not. They will discuss, promise and may be even announce the article’s demise. I still don’t think it will pave the way for a real election.

    Fully agree. I would also add that Bashar will empty any constitutional reform by insisting that terms of office doe not include terms served prior to whatever unconstitutional constitution his committee will come up with.

Comments (5)

newfolder said:

the FSA kill Bashar’s dogs in an ambush. soon, we kill all the dogs

November 11th, 2011, 3:36 pm


annie said:

Waw ! This guy or girl OTW is brilliant. Thanks for posting him.

When will you notice Rime Allaf, another Syrian star who, to the best of my knowledge, has never made it here ?

November 12th, 2011, 6:06 pm


JMUMoney said:

It seems as though no one is taking into account Assad’s supporters.

Lets say the regime falls and a transitional government is formed, aren’t there going to be Assad supporters who will reject this, and possibly, god forbid, stage massive protests against the new regime?

I have a feeling Syria is going to turn into Lebanon with foreign governments vying for control through proxies. What am I saying we’re already seeing this.

November 17th, 2011, 8:55 am


Yoseph Alsawady said:

Please vote for recognizing the Syrian National Council!!/petition/recognize-syrian-national-council/0YW49pPv

November 17th, 2011, 4:32 pm



Good observation. Everyone, including myself is thinking of Assad supporters as the side in power now, but if he loses, them what will they do. Everyone needs to think about this, especially Assad supporters.

November 17th, 2011, 5:20 pm


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