Monday, January 02, 2012

The Future Waiting for Syria: Tunisia Meeting of the Syrian National Council

While the security situation in Syria and the economy are going worse day by day, the opposition that is active abroad in political (Syria National Council) and military (Free Syrian Army) realms is striving hard to rise to a higher position. In this framework, the Syrian National Council arranged their first meeting in Tunisia on December 17-18, 2011 and after a two-day-long meeting, a resolution was announced. Having different views on the method of struggle conducted against the Syrian regime through the meeting, tools to be used and the kind of the structure to be established after the overthrow of the Assad administration, the opposition groups demonstrated that they had a common position on the point of destroying the regime and they would fight together for that purpose.

In the conference, one had discussions on the political programme of the Syrian National Council, prepared regulations and tried to arrange relations between different units of the Syrian opposition. The resolution that was announced after the First Meeting of the General Assembly of the Syrian National Council incorporates the way through which the struggle will be implemented, the power balances between the Syrian opposition groups and clues on what kind of a future is waiting for Syria after the possible collapse of the Assad regime.

In the resolution, one underscored that “all the endeavours for the Revolution aiming for humanitarian targets such as freedom and honour will be maintained to be successful”. The Syrian National Council, with this statement, tried to show that the Revolution movement was peaceful in terms of the means it used and democratic with respect to the aimed target. Therefore, they try to demonstrate the allegations made against them by the Syrian administration that they were “terrorist groups” or “radical Islamists” were wrong. In the resolution, it was stated that “the ultimate goal of the Syrian opposition is the fall of the regime”. This statement reveals that the peace projects based on negotiations between the Syrian administration and opposition and share of administration had no practicality. Regime already illuminated one that it would suppress the demonstrations through the use of violence regardless of the extent. Opposition also expressed that it would go on with the demonstrations until the regime would fall. Hence, instability in Syria should be expected to last for a long time. As a matter of fact, the Syrian opposition, with its current situation, is far from being able to destroy the administration.

The Syrian opposition determined the general framework of the political projects for Syria in the post-Assad period. According to that, one targeted “an administration that is democratic, pluralistic, civil and before which all citizens are equal before law”. These statements are a result of the search for support of the Syrian public and international arena. With the emphasis on democracy, pluralism and rule of law, one tried to push the Arab Alawis, Christians, Druzes that have a concern of “Sunni domination” or “Islamic administration” to insurgency movements. Furthermore, by giving the signal to the West that the new political structure would be democratic, one attempts to increase their support. Another concern of the West is the minorities and the situation of the Christians. With this article, one tries to guarantee that there will be no violation of the right of the Christians and Arab Alawis to live. Moreover, despite the emphasis on “secularism” of many liberal opposition groups, the fact that in the resolution, only the statement of “civil” was present is probably a result of the impact of the Syria Muslim Brotherhood. As a matter of fact, the Syria Muslim Brotherhood organization did not favour the existence of the “secularism” principle in the resolution in previous conferences.

Under another title, one tries to gain the support of all parts of the Syrian public. Each Syrian group is expressed to be treated equally regardless of his/her ethnicity or denominational identity. Here, one underscores the Arabs, Kurdish Christians as well as the Turkmens. Although there is no Turkmen representative in the Syrian National Council, the fact that the Turkmens are addressed in the resolution is very important as it reveals that the opposition is more comprehensive.

There is a separate title for the Syrian Kurds. This situation signifies two facts. Firstly, it is shown that the Kurdish movement is very active and effective among the Syrian opposition. Secondly, Syrian Kurdish movement is very organized and strong to damage the Assad administration. Even though the Syrian Kurds had gone to the streets in the initial periods of the insurgencies, they did not arrange a serious demonstration in the last months. In fact, even after the killing of the eminent Kurdish opposing figure Misel Temmo, there was no serious Kurdish demonstration despite the high expectations. The Kurds seem to be satisfied with some of the privileges given by Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian opposition, in such an environment, so as to receive the support of the Kurds tries to get the Kurds by them by promising, “the Kurdish national identity will be protected under constitution”. It was stated that “under the unity of Syria, one would end the privileges given to the Kurds”. With the statement of “under the unity of Syria”, it was seen that one approached the demands of the Syrian Kurds for autonomy with caution. It is possible to argue that the Syrian Kurds are in the winning side both regarding the relations with the regime and the opposition in addition their balancing role.

The opposition stated that all resistance and peaceful revolutionist endeavours of the Syrian public would be supported. With this, on the one hand, one tries to preserve the resisting power of the public, and on the other hand, one is used to the violent struggling methods. However, with this statement, with another title that could be considered as contradictory, one calls for international community to intervene. The Syrian National Council calls urgently for the Arab Union and the United Nations to create zones for the protection of the Syrian citizens and demonstrators and establish protected zones. This call is a sign revealing that the Syrian opposition is on another step. In previous periods, they did not use to consider international intervention favourably due to concern that it would lead the country into a worse case. However, at this point, the idea that the Assad regime would not be destroyed without international intervention became prevalent. In the same way, another statement is about the “Free Syrian Arm” composed of the soldiers leaving the army and organizing armed struggles. Rejected and criticized for some of their demonstrations by the opposition till now, the Free Syrian army is now appreciated with their role in protecting the Syrian public. This statement is important for two aspects. First is that the Syrian armed opposition is now supporting the armed resistance. Second is that the Syrian political opposition (Syrian National Council) and the Syrian military opposition (Free Syrian Army) had a connection. Probably, in the upcoming period, the sides may adopt a more coordinated direction.

The Syrian National Council, lastly, sends a message to Israel and Arab States. By underlining that the one will provide sovereignty to the Golan Hills that are now under annexation and one will support the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, one tries to gain the support of the Syrian public and the Arab States. In case of a regime change, it is seen that the same stance will be preserved with regard to the relations with Israel and Palestine Problem.

The fact that the meeting was held in Tunisia can be considered as progress for the Syrian National Council. Recognized only by the new administration in Libya so far and opening an office in Turkey in the recent period, the Syrian National Council had their meeting in Tunisia, which is of great importance for international recognition.

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