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).

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.

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.