Akhatib peace initiative

Last week Mr. Moaz, the head of the NC, announced his peace initiative from his FB page. Basically it sets two terms for him to sit down and talk with regime (or with representatives of regime whom did not have blood on their hand), these terms are the release of 160,000 prisoners from jail and passport renewal for opposition members living outside of Syria. As expected the initiative created waves of protest (from the classical traitor) or approval, coming from all parties involved starting from follow NC members to regime state supporters and foes depending on their position and interest and finally from Syrians themselves. 

I listen to many discussions and read for others thoughts and analysis, and one common thing I found is that no one understand the initiative, and no one has any idea what is it suppose to accomplish or even what is it about. Maybe some insiders knows the discussion behind closed doors, or maybe there is no discussions behind close doors and what we see is IT basically, nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps many are trying to read too much into it, trying to read between the lines when there is nothing between the lines, no hidden meanings. 

In my mind the possibly aim for the initiative could be one and more from the following;

  • giving counter initiative to the one regime gave, trying to throw the ball back to regime court and showing some engagement with the regime to satisfy the backers of the opposition.
  • Trying to entice countries supporting opposition for more action or more arms, by hinting that NC might cut a deal with regime and these countries will have to learn to live with Assad in power for years to come (if they can afford that).
  • trying to make a split or support some split inside the regime itself, although not much evidence of the existence of this split (by asking for AlSharea in name to represent the regime)
  • Giving a support to any pressure on the regime from its main international allies (like Russia or China). Then later giving them reason to use for backing out from position
  • or just desperate attempts to save lives
  • and if the regime had to sit down on the table for any reason, while no one expecting much from that but at least we could get some people out of jail and renew some passports for Syrians living out of the country.

What is apparent is that the initiative took a personal nature from Mr. Alkhatib not in the name of the NC (although it is muddied a bet, so no clarity). On the surface most or all fellow members in the NC especially the MB opposed the imitative, (but this is maybe a planned approach to show that Mr. Alkhatib is facing lots of resistance and can’t give more), and most of the positive support came from each and every Syrian citizen i know and heard to.

In conclusion I think most surprising response was from Syrians who appear to have had enough and looking for any settlement, although rebels cannot take same position since they will be all killed by regime if settlements was to keep the regime in any way (or at least that is what they believe). Other very important result is that NC gained back some relevance after SNC lost it all in the past year, and most of that credit goes to Mr. Alkhatib personally.

Now that it seems the adventure is over, and initiative ended in the way everyone thought it will. It looks like a good move by head of NC and in the net result it was positivist for opposition in general and him personally (so i think we will still see more of him now that he became a permanent player no longer on the sides).


predetermined minds and predetermined ends

It took me time, and lots of screaming in long arguments with Syrians pro regime to finally get it. I cannot use logic or evidence in my arguments because many of them have made-up their mind which party guilty and which is not long time ago, even way before the occurrence of the event we’re arguing about. In these arguments there is no point of presenting evidence or formulating an argument or using logic or common sense because the convictions are NOT based on evidence, so no mater the how many evidence you bring to argument, and no matter how articulated and structured your argument is, the answer is predetermined even before you started the argument itself.
Basically no hope and we are going nowhere. This revolution will take its full course and will reach its end by one side completely finishing the other.  We are passed the point where it could finish by removing one or some symbolic figures, but i feel unfortunately it will end up with complete win of one party over the other. This is not positive and I am not promoting more violence, I know those who get hurt are the weak ones standing in the middle, but I feel facts on the ground only support this scenario.  

Now we all have to wait until this revolution reaches its end, I don’t think anyone can stop it now or prevent the increased bloodshed in the coming months. Really sad, I blame international community.

This is simply its nature,, this is how they know how

It really hurts to see all this pain and suffering, to see the desperation in the eyes of the young and old, but it even hurt more so when I know that these are my people and this is my homeland. Then I started thinking; knowing the regime I should expect the pain is even more than what is shown on the media. There are much evidence from youtube uploads and documentaries produced by international media channels showing torture been used on an industrial scale (quoting one documentary). These practices and the scale it has been used showing and proving that regime in Syria was able to genetically modify humans and to reduce them into animals (reversing much of their evolution).

No longer the practice of torture is limited to a two floors below the ground dungeon in some security building, but it is practiced by simple solders and officers right in the open fields. It is not used to extract information or intelligence from the other side, but a practice to inflict fear, terror and horror in the victim heart and the society in general so that they submit.

This strategy had worker in the past, and for too long. It is not working anymore and it is actually fueling revolution now. For over 20 moth the regime showed that it has no alternative. Like the frog and Scorpio by the river story IT IS THEIR NATURE, IT IS HOW THEY DO THINGS, IT IS HOW THEY HAVE BEEN TRAINED, AND HOW THEY HAVE PRACTICED ALL A LONG.

Lost of innocence for syria

I don’t care how Bashar leaves or die, the damage he already caused is beyond repair. The children who lost a parent or was/is traumatized, the families who lost their bread feeder in a country that do not provide for its citizens not even the basics, and the men who’s heart got harden and changed for ever from inside watching all this pain inflicted on friends and comrades.

Some might focus on studying costs or rebuilding and estimates lost wealth of nation, but all these are nothing and can be easily replaced. Buildings can be rebuild and machines can be fixed, like it been done before many times in many places.  Assets are valued by the expected future cash flows, which means if we fix the country then wealth can be created in a relative speed.

Nothing can be more damaging than lost souls and spirit, Lost of innocence for many young and for many of the old. Nothing will be the same now, no matter how you kill Bashar or which country he leaves to.

to arm or not to arm ?

I have been struggling with this question for some time now, and i still have no clear position on it (I never said I have all the answers). But would like to share some of my thoughts on the subject.

I understand the fears of some for arming the opposition and the FSA, that arming might start a civil war in Syria and no one will be able to put down the fire then. And this is a valid point and if one is not scared of this possibility then he is not taking a fair full look at the situation. A second valid point I think is that FSA has no clear central command, so which group are you going to arm. The fear will be each party (external parties or internal living out) will arm the fighters that agree with their ideology, so you will have some arming the Islamist and others will arm the leftist or the nationalist and so own, so you will end up with a situation where the better armed fighters will win more battles and they will push their agenda on the other fighters and later on to new political system after the fall of the regime. Or you will have internal fighting between fighters themselves who are armed by different parties.

On the other hand, rebels and defectors are fighting the regime already, so no point of denying that fact, and one can argue that they are the last hope for many Syrians on the ground to topple the regime. So far no valid political solution is presented for people to hope for with no need to carry more arms, in fact it looks more and more that the regime do not feel threaten at all, therefore doesn’t seem to be really interested in any negotiation or a political solution. It can be suggested that if defectors are armed better and presented a real threat to the regime then regime will respond to political initiatives in more positive manner and you might even see more defections in army which will shorten the period of its fall.

In the end of the day, opposition should lead the way not be lead by the people on the streets, they should use their knowledge and intellect to take the hard decisions which can’t be popular all the times (otherwise anyone can do the job of echoing what people are saying). It is evident that Syrians on the ground are calling for arming fighters out desperation since they are the ones who are getting killed and bombed and starved.  while most of the people calling for a pause and think are coming from opposition living out with not as much to loose (exceptions always there for both). I think a middle ground is to arm rebels to the point that they present a real threat for regime to sit down and really negotiate, while organizing the FSA under one command with Syrian agenda in case more arms are to be used.

Standing still and waiting for the best is not an option at all, and waiting for the west to decide to intervene is a stupid strategy, we should not be part of their strategy or interests.

Homs lesson

Many would say the regime could not do the massacre of Karm Zaitoun. they would argue that it can serve no purpose for the regime especially on the day the NSC is gathering to discuss situation in Syria.

From what i see first the regime do not care what is happening outside of Syria, they never did. Few months ago FM Moallem apologized for attacking foreign embassies, but on same day regime thugs attacked two more embassies in the afternoon on the same day. The regime bombed Baba Amro while regional media is airing the attack live on TV, and international media reporters reported events daily for 27 days. But second and more important reason, is this is the whole point. The regime cannot keep the army in front each house in the country, they need people to fear the army and the regime. So they need to keep population submission through fear tactics. this methods have been tested and used with great success in the 80s in Hama. They take an area or a town and hit it so hard and so brutal to use it as an example for the rest. So shelling Baba Amro randomly until leaving no building intact, and killing brutally 50 people in karm zaitoun while allowing media pictures to escape is the intended action and the goal. and finally we know from history and experience the regime is capable of doing such and event while I do not know if opposition can do something horrible like that.

Media will give different versions for what actually happened and by whom, pro regime media will accuse opposition and outside media will accuse regime. I am currently outside of Syria so i will not know what the truth actually is, but in my logic i look at the people on the ground if they blame regime thugs and opposition members. from what i see for now; i see people are fleeing areas the Syrian army is entering and still providing cover and support for opposition fighters, so I blame the regime.

voting for new constitution

It is never about the articles of the constitution old or new, it is about respecting the constitution. The current constitution was issued in 1973 in the early days of Hafez Al-Assad rule (the Father), he designed it by himself to himself. But the emergency laws were never lifted since the 60s, and therefore conveniently many of its articles were never effected especially the ones talking about civil rights and guaranteeing personal freedoms and freedom of speech and thoughts (Art 38/31/27/25).

Even with the custom-made constitution and the emergency laws, still the president and his assigned consecutive governments did not abide by it, or respected it in spirit or words. When the second term of Hafez AlAssad term finished, he did not have a problem in renewing his presidency for life (instead of the two terms as dictated in his constitution) in complete disrespect of the constitution and Syrian people. In that same Constitution current for now (Art 13) state “The state economy is a planned socialist economy”, But Bashar did not find a problem when he was first empowered to state that he will be following a policy to free the economy by opening-up the market ( I think he called it a private Social economy). And did not mind carrying this policy for over 11 years now in which he privatized many aspect of economy and allowed private companies to own a good part of this economy (Art 14 state that public utilities should be public ownership, this is not to state my opinion in the planned economy, but stating the facts).

When late father Hafez Assad expired, the constitution stated president needed to be at age of 40 years or older, the constitution was amended in less than half an hour to allow the new younger son to be president.

This is not to mention many laws which are unconstitutional with no one a to discuss them or objecting. Last year to allow the lifting of the emergency laws a new law was issued allowing the police to detain people indefinitely, and so the problem was solved and emergency law lifted and no one felt the deference.

In conclusion I refuse to debate the articles of the new constitution. I consider it misleading and distraction to argue about the implication of president being allowed two more terms (after expiry of the current one), and president powers to include forming and heading a government at his preference notwithstanding the wishes of the majority in the parliament. Or discuss the total disregard of the separation of powers by not only heading the executive side of the government and approving its policies but actually empowering him to head the army, to head the judicial counsel and appoints its member judges, to allow him legislating powers to issue laws without parliament approval (if not in session or if in session) while he can stop laws issued by parliament. Just to make it even funnier he can dismiss the parliament and executive branch which is the government at will.

So basically short of being god he can do anything with no need to consult anyone for any reason. HE CAN DO WHAT THE HELL HE WANT

Al Qaida in syria

Many Syrians romanticize about the FSA; they are Syrian solders who refused to carry orders and shoot at their Syrian brothers, they defected and now defending protesters trying to secure them during their peaceful protests. But if you can convince people it is Al Qaida who is involved; well that is a different case now.

Few weeks ago, an explosion shook security forces building in Al-Midan in central Damascus, it resulted in the death of many security forces personnel and some civilians (or so the regime claimed). Immediately regime media and some officials accused Al Qaida of the bombing and deaths within 30 mints of the event. At the time I could not understand, why are they accusing al Qaida not the FSA, we all know Alqaida had not been part of this revolt in Syria?? especially that the head of the FSA in Turkey had warned few days before of something big in the pipeline,, I thought that would be perfect setup to accuse them of this one.  But still they choose not accuse FSA and instead within 30 mints they accused Al qaida. Now I realize that this is brilliant work.

Syrians have accepted the FSA existence and their agenda, they accepted their need to operate (and maybe in the process killing solders or civilians), they have provided them with supplies, shelter and most importantly they gave them legitimacy. But Syrians did not give that cover to AL Qaida, and they would freak-out if these bombing are their work. They are foreigners Islamist and their vision is not what they what for Syria after the fall of the regime. Actually if one thing Syians are scared of in the revolution is the Iraqi model, and their sectarian war with Al qaida mass killing in the name of Islam or Sunnis.  Regime knows that and now they are working on convincing everyone, especially people from the inside, that these acts are perpetrated by Al qaida. To this end they have orchestrated an introduction to this by a statement from Iraqi minister saying that Al-qaida fighters are moving from Iraq to Syria (although he later said no specific intelligence in that regard but this is a general trend) also we heard from a minister in Lebanon claiming the same information, of fighters crossing from Lebanon to Syria (later his own prime-minister said no such solid intelligence available in the matter), they are both an allies of the Syrian regime.

But most disturbing; the US lately came out with similar information from an intelligence officer during a congress questioning. for me this is really scary,  because it means either there are really AL Qaida operatives in Syria (which I don’t believe) or it means the USA is preparing to sell the opposition out and side with the regime, or at least keep this excuse alive just in case they needed it in the future.

Now Will all this work?? I personally don’t think so, i think Syrian people no longer listen or believe the regime and its media, they made up their mind; they want regime down and out of our life; good or bad.

Where did we go wrong

Way before the revolution started in Syria, I have been consumed by the idea of Where did we go wrong. Looking at the past 60 years I wanted to know what did we do wrong that resulted in the situation we are in right now. I thought if we can pinpoint the exact action or event we could first allocate blame and second learn not to do it again, otherwise we could be doing the same thing all over again and we will end up in the same place again.

I watched documentaries relating to that period and tried to read books talking about recent history of Syria. Most interesting are the discussions I had with the elderly who experienced these event and their opinions (state of mind at that time).  But Every time I build a theory, I discuss it, I debate it with other and myself, having in mind an acceptable level of human greed and lust for power, I find that it could happen anywhere if it not actually happened elsewhere.

But while discussing these events including military coups, suspension of parliament, army interference with political life and the usual greed of the business class, I started seeing a trend that underlined many of the event in Syria. Syrians for the most part welcomed most of these events,  the military coups and all other event that I would expect them to reject. The reason is always in the name of the cause (be it Palestine or Arab unity or what else). I concluded that we accepted the wrongs in the name of cause, and this slowly drained us from our basic rights little by little, one event after the other until we had nothing left. It was your basic ends justifying the means.

I hope with these sacrifices Syrians are paying now, even with their blood, we learn that no cause is worth sacrificing basic rights or dignity and freedoms for. That ends do justify the means. That humiliated nation striped of their rights, their dignity could not fight in a war could not build a country, or create civil and just society, that people need to love their society to sacrifice for it. That we can accomplish all goals and reach the ends they want only when they are happy with what they have.

now these are arguable conclusions, am I reading too much in it??

About the SNC

I have been meaning to write something about the SNC for some time now, but always delayed it because I felt I did not know much about them, who they are, what do they stand for, and what they want to do. But now I feel I don’t have to wait anymore, I think that is exactly the problem, WE DON’T KNOW. With latest development there might not be an SNC to write about if I waited longer.

I know some of its members (I learned of them through TV shows and hosting of Arab news channels) I know that media say that Muslim Brotherhood have big representation in the counsel, and that it is very close to Turkey. I do realize that Syrian regime do not allow any opposition (even the puppets they create inside are not safe, if for some reason regime decided to change its mind they can be arrested and jailed and not to be released again maybe forgotten by the regime itself), and therefore I don’t blame the apposition for not being known or united, since many of them are new to the seen.

But that is not good anymore, after ten months they have to realize that this is one of the major problems they face. They have to work on gaining people trust by having more transparency, they should introducing themselves to the people, they have to show us who they are, and what they want to do, what do they stand for, who do they represent (do they represent tribes or a sect or an ethnicity or geographical area and why they are on the counsel). I keep seeing new people for he first time on TV introducing themselves as SNC members, and part of this committee or that committee, while i dont know which line of thoughts they represent within the SNC. I tried to research some more about them through their official web site and through facebook and twitter, but I did not find anything about who they are, not even how many members they have or how many committees they have, what are methods of taking decisions. Few weeks ago they held first meeting in Tunisia and I thought, finally now we will have a clear picture of the members and clear vision for what they want to do, but unless I missed something beside the short press conference at the end I did not get anything (please correct me if i am missing something).

It seems to me they dont even know what they are; last month the head of the counsel state that when they will be in charge they will stop relations with Iran and they will not support hizbullah, have they forget that they are merely a transition counsel, their job is to make the transition from dictatorship to democratically representative system, they cannot decide on direction of the country or any strategical decisions. They are boxing themselves and limiting options of Syria for no apparent benefit, except trying to please the west by giving such statements.
The revolution in syria was made by Syrian people, kept against all odds by Syrians, forced itself into the international and regional agenda by the Syrian people (no one wanted the regime to fall, not the regional players from turkey to Jordan to Lebanon or Iraq, no one from the international scene not the US or EU or Russia or Iran) and paid for it by Syrian lives. The SNC has to realize only the Syrian people can change the equations, calculations and interests of the regional and international powers, and Syrian people are the only ones who came true over and over again not the UN nor the AL or Islamic counsel or the church in the Vatican.

SNC biggest asset is the Syrian people, and their perception that it is the only option for the revolution, once that is gone they are gone. I think the SNC should be;

– more transparent; talking to people and explaining what they are doing and why

– giving a clear plan for what happen in the day after the fall of the regime, how they intend to move to democratically representative system.

– concentrating efforts on the inside, by organizing the revolution and trying to support it by logistical means as for supplying food medicine and supplies or lifting the spirits by gathering public figures support (politicians, artists writers signers actors,,,)

Once they do that, they will win more support from the remaining silent Syrians who are fearing anarchy now, and the revolution will grow and become stronger. When others see the revolution is strong and organized with a clear plan and transition you will see the west knocking on their doors, then they can negotiate from position of power not weakness by giving concessions to please others.

PS; please consider this entry as an open discussion area, feel free to comment and correct any of the points mentioned above, more specifically please suggest more points for what SNC should be doing.