The Arab initiative, medicine or poison?

8 months of protests and clashes between protesters and government have passed, clashes that have left -and are still leaving- an excessive number of dead (some 4200) from both protestors and Syrian military (although who is killing army personnel is still a matter of debate). Initially, the international society decided not to do anything and not to interfere with the Syrian internal affairs, but the blood flood kept on and international intervention became an eminent threat that could have severe aftershocks on the whole region. That’s why the the gulf-cooperation-council (GCC) countries decided to call for an urgent meeting for Arab Foreign Ministers in the Arab league to discuss the situation in Syria, and it was decided to form a committee to plan and oversee a dialogue between the authorities in Syria and all factions of the Syrian opposition. It is also quite known that most of those factions have united under the flag of the Syrian National Council (SNC).

This committee was refused by both sides (the authorities and the SNC) for various reasons that start with the chairmanship of the Committee (Qatar), and does not end with the symbolism of this dialogue as the Syrian authorities consider it a reorganization of the SNC, even the opposition factions who refused to join the SNC have many criticisms against this committee.

Michel Kilo, the well-known Syrian oppositionist who had previously criticized the SNC for not including all oppositionists in Syria, said that he is ready to talk more to the council to avoid divisions that could harm the unity of the opposition. Burhan Ghalyoun, the SNC leader said: “There is the council and there are the other opposition members, and we will do everything to make sure there is a united voice for the opposition,” and he added: “I don’t think that the opposition is divided. I think the opposition is unanimous on one objective; to bring this regime down.”

The officials in Syria refused to recognize the SNC and insist that such council is a weapon in the hand of the enemies of Syria, they have even warned to take ‘tough measures’ against any country that recognizes the newly-formed opposition entity. Under this Ping-Pong game, Syrians are suffering and looking for good and feasible solutions. Although, they are divided into supporters, oppositionists, and the lost people in-between who or don’t know what to do or how to keep living the life they used to live, all Syrians have heard about the Arab initiative and all of them have understood its circumstances, they are, however, divided about taking a serious attitude in favor of the initiative or against it.


Debating the initiative

After the media conference that announced the Initiative, Syrian officials refused it because they refuse Qatar to be in the leadership of the overseeing committee, the opposition, also, refused the Initiative because it doesn’t reflect their-the SNC’s-needs and aims.

Ordinary Syrians, have their own opinions too: “I don’t trust any member of the SNC, they are all agents for the western countries, I encourage the officials here in Syria to stand against this. We don’t want to talk with murderers and spies, Arab countries! They are nothing but a steering wheel in the hands of the western leaders,” says Abbas, 28 years old, marketing manager.

The initiative stated that the meetings should be out of Syria at the Arab league’s headquarters in Cairo, this turned out to be a problem on its own, while the other important subject of debates was whether Syrians should recognize the SNC or not: “I don’t care,” says Solaf, 25 years old, house wife and mother of four “I refuse the idea of recognizing the SNC so I will not discuss the place, but I will say that, if the subject is about Syria then they should meet in Syria. I don’t know what they will discuss! Protesting activities should stop first, and then they can discuss anything, although, I already know that they will gain nothing from this meeting.”

“Of course they should, it’s the only hope that we have to stop the Syrians dilemma, they should meet and discuss everything, step by step, and they will find out useful connections between each other, no matter where the place is, all what I know is that they should meet, I think they will manage to cooperate to achieve the best for Syria and its international relations. I thank the Arab league for the initiative” Hadi, 36 years old dentist, said.

Ammar Hamed, 58 years old, a company owner  shouted: “No one should rely on Arab countries, they want to forget six months of dead people, six months of clashes and battles, no I don’t want the SNC to meet the officials in Syria, the meeting means that all what is going on here in Syria will be lost and for nothing. We will never accept that, the supports call it protests, but I call it a revolution, so we should continue to the end to achieve our aims and our freedom. They should not meet in Syria, I don’t trust anyone here; they will arrest them and put them in cells forever! The officials will gain more time to execute their wishes and the SNC will lose time and bodies”. As for the meeting venue, he said: “I don’t know, in any neutral country such as Egypt, Jordan, or in Africa, I don’t know, but I say it again: They shouldn’t meet, it is useless.”

The contradictions that lay between the attitudes of the supporters and the oppositionists are becoming deeper and complicated. The leadership of the committee sponsoring this dialogue became yet another problem: “Qatar! what a sarcastic coincidence?! The country that supervised-and still is- the bloody events in Syria is the judge! How could we trust such a committee? I will never ever trust the people who have helped the ‘armed groups’ here in Syria. Anyway, this meeting will lead to nothing, and there will never be any good results out of such meeting.” Says Mahmoud Assaf, 47 years old, manager of a food industry. When we asked him about the possible good results of such a meeting he answered: “ I think, stopping the crisis and killing the armed groups in Syria is a good result, pushing the intruders away is a good result, giving the Syrian economy a break to take its breath is a good result. But nothing of these results is going to happen. I know that our officials will never accept the meeting and will never accept the committee under the leadership of Qatar.”

“The reality of the new initiative is clear, which is to give the SNC the time to meet with the officials in Syria and to give the officials the chance to understand the needs of the SNC, but this is not going to happen. The officials here are closing their eyes and ears, they don’t want any solution from anyone, they believe that they are able to manage their own business alone. But, as we can all see, they can’t, I think someone is afraid from the truth, they are afraid from the people and the fact that such a step could force them out of their chairs.” Nuha Fadoul, 24years old, diplomatic studies student said. Nuha believes that “such a dialogue will uncover the reality and will put the officials face to face with their lies. If this happened; It will be the meeting of the century, it will bring great and useful benefits for Syria and Syrians. We will have -for the first time in the history of modern Syria- an official opposition to share the leadership here and monitor the official work, and this will be magnificent.”

Nuha sees that the place of the meeting is not important and will not affect the dialogue as long as there will be an overseeing committee, but Somar, 25 years old, student, has another opinion: “They should meet in a neutral country, to prevent the psychological distress on both sides, and to give the committee the freedom of movement between both sides. I hope that both sides accept this initiative, because it will help to end this situation in Syria. No one can withstand another six or seven months, if not more. Anyway, I pray for them and I believe in the Syrian officials, they can choose the best for Syria and Syrians.” Somar was talking while his eyes were holding suspicious looks about what he is saying, but, anyway, he said what he has in mind, while others couldn’t.

Double rejection

Ghoson. Sh, 32 years old, engineer said: “They refused it, both of them -the Syrian officials and the oppositionists-! I don’t know the full details, but I know that the government rejected it because they don’t recognize the SNC and they don’t accept Qatar as a mediator or leader of the mediating committee. I wish to kill all the SNCs, they are all traitors, they started the bloody events, then they present themselves as peaceful people. I hate them, they will never get what they want, the meeting will begin with sitting at the table with Syrian officials, this is an honor that they -the oppositionists- will never have! It will lead to nothing and will never give anything useful, we as Syrians -all of us- believe in Mr. Bashar al-Assad and his wise leadership, he will fix everything in Syria and will make Syria one of the most developed countries, Syria is protected by God”.

The leadership of the committee is a big obstacle in the way of implementing the initiative because the officials in Syria are rejecting and refusing it. Therfore, the officials in Qatar showed that they are ready to leave the chair for someone else in order to give a good push to the initiative, Mr. al-Arabi Secretary General of the Arab league said that choosing Qatar to lead the committee was not by purpose, it was because Qatar is the chairman-state of the resent current session. However, Ahmad Ali, 26 student has a different point of view: “They have chosen Qatar because they knew that Syria will refuse it, so in order to clear their side when they order the NATO forces to attack Syria, they chose Qatar to say that the Syrian are refusing the whole initiative. They don’t want to put an end to the dilemma, they don’t want to cooperate with international community.” Ahmad was angry when he said that and continued: “I don’t want them to negotiate with the SNC, they should arrest them all, they should hunt them down as they have hunted al-Harmoush, one by one, and lock them in dark wet cells.”!

The supporters of the SNC also refused the meeting and said that this is a big trap, and that they (Arab leaders and Syrian authorities) want to kill the Syrian revolution. They will never accept any solution but the fall of the regime. They believe that the SNC is very strong and will achieve its goals sooner or later.

Talking about achievements, it is worth mentioning that the interim council in Libya has recognized the SNC and offered them the Syrian embassy building in Libya to be used as their headquarters. Some recognized this as another step forward while others considered it a union of killers.

“The SNC and the Syrian officials are now against a tremendous challenge in front of the Syrian people and the whole world, they are the only ones who have the ability to change and to save Syria from the greed of the other nations, they should throw their psychological complexes away and understand the rules of the new world. I don’t think that the European league, USA, half of Africa with three-quarter of the Arab countries are planning for one thing, even so, I don’t think that one country or one council will manage to stand against them! No one can stand against a flood; we shouldn’t be like the scorpion, who will kill itself if it couldn’t find anywhere to go” Joumana Ba, 69 years old, retired journalist said.


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