Sometimes, what seems logical, like a united front in the Syrian opposition, is anything but given how the west deals with the Syrian opposition and how Assad views it.
Partially, it is the fault of the opposition but the blame squarely falls on the cunning of a regime with Stalinist tactics and the lack of a “connect-the-dots” policy by western countries.Â
Consider these three compelling reasons.Â
Mirroring Opposition, Opposite Agendas
For every authentic and strong Syrian opposition or human rights organization, there is a mirror of the same opposition fabricated by the regime.
When the Local Coordination Committees rose to prominence in the last 10 months, the regime formed the National Coordinating Committees claiming to represent the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
When Ammar Qurabi formed the National Human Rights Organization in Syria, the regime fabricated Haytham Mana’a using a human rights organization called Arab Human Rights Commission.
Even when the Reform Party of Syria was founded in the US, the regime fabricated one called the National Reform Party of Syria.
This is intended to confuse who is really an oppositionist and who is not. But more importantly, it gives the impression that the opposition is not united when those mirroring organizations frustrate the normal trajectory of an opposition movement.
When a Christian named Michel Aflaq formed the Ba’ath Party (Along with Salah el-Din al-Bitar, a Sunni, and Zaki al-Arsuzi, an Alawi), the intended purpose was to build an ideology based on Arab Nationalism rather than religious or ethnic identities. There is a good reason for their concerns.
Given that Syria is a rainbow of religious and ethnic communities, their clashes is a reality; but more so today in a country led by an oppressive regime rather than the freedom of its people. Aflaq never saw this coming.
The regime itself is driving that wedge when its Arabism represses the Kurdish minorities and its Alawism represses the Sunni majority. The Syrian opposition is representative of those tensions no matter how hard we try to bridge the gaps by calling upon our wisdom to address common concerns.
What stands out usually is the patience exercised by any one organization to reach out to others and the will to always look down the road instead of the rear view mirror.
Velvet Gloves, Sand Paper
No better example of that wedge than my own tirade against the Muslim Brotherhood. Mine is driven by a simple motivation: The Syrian Constitution will have to be re-written soon for the 21st century and I do not want the Islamists to engrave it with their backward-thinking Muslim ideology.
Had the Obama administration not empowered the Muslim Brotherhood by giving it more importance than it deserves and PM Erdogan of Turkey not stand behind it 100% at the expense of all the other ideologies, I would not be writing these words because I would not have any fears for Syria’s future.Â
In plain English, our inner tensions are caused by a lack of understanding by the west that the volatility of our ethnic and religious make-up so much in consideration by western diplomats inside Syria is totally ignored when it comes to the Syrian opposition. Interior Syrian ethnic and ideological tensions are treated with velvet gloves and the Syrian opposition ethnic and ideological tensions are treated with sand paper.
The US State Department has yet to commit to our harmony the way their diplomats commit to the harmony of the Syrian society when it senses communal tensions endangering the country.Â
That’s why we don’t waltz with each other but rather we pirouette around each other for fear that the dawn of a new Syria will be infringed upon by one group or another at the expense of the collective interests of all Syrians. Syria is the Baskin-Robbins of the Middle East when it comes to race, religion, and ethnicity and because it’s a microcosm of the fabric of the USA in the Middle East, the west hands-off policies increases our fear.Â
It is important to understand well why our unity faces insurmountable difficulties, especially when there is little effort to fully grasp how divisive the elements that separate us are and even less effort to circumvent them the way they are circumvented inside Syria.Â
Â Unless, of course, our unity is just an excuse to ignore regime change in Syria.Â