Syria is one of the most diverse countries in the Arab world (Lebanon has similar demographics on a smaller scale), which makes regime change in Syria a complicated matter. Better to be safe than sorry as the saying goes.
The tensions built over the last 11 months of runaway violence has to be added to any equation of change because the resentment and anger amongst the least franchised of our people is boiling over in the form of sectarianism and incendiary fanaticism.
The SNC was formed during peaceful times and its leadership polished its strategy on the basis of a diplomatic and political solution. This makes the SNC today less than effective to answer the question before us; and given that all the minorities who joined the SNC early on did so out of their sense of duty to serve Syria, today they have to focus on a looming danger dealing with their own survival.
To avoid this sectarian minefield we are witnessing, we first must recognize the many shortcomings of the Syrian opposition formed by the Arab League and whose priorities are established more to protect the Arab countries than the Syrian people (The delays in asking the UN and NATO for help against the Syrian killing resulted in the amplification of today’s sectarianism). I really do not buy into the notion that Saudi Arabia and Qatar will prioritize the safety of Syria’s minorities over their own self-interests or that of Sunni Muslims.
There is always the possibility that a Hariri-like liberal may rule Syria one day but given the aggressiveness I experienced first-hand from the Muslim Brotherhood with a clear agenda one can read about in any book written by Qutb or al-Banna, I have my doubts.
This leaves us with a big question: Given the state of affairs in Syria today, who will protect the Alawites and the Christians who are as innocent from Assad’s crimes as any other Syrian? If we are able to develop an infallible plan to answer that question, then many of Syria’s minorities will turn on Assad having the assurances that their safety, livelihood, and future does not rest in the hands of the Islamist majority-controlled SNC or the Wahabbi Saudis or the Qataris secret support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Whether the new approach is to force the inner circle of the SNC to invite many oppositionists to the Muslim Brotherhood (Myself not included) to strike a balance or whether it is time to split to form a Council of their own (While keeping their lines of communications open with all the other Syrian opposition groups) is a question better left to the Syrian minorities to answer.
A test for you: Name three Syrian Christian or AlawiteÂ oppositionists whether involved or not in the SNC. Even if you can, I can almost guarantee you theirs are not household names and that’s where the problem starts. Everyone knows who the Islamists are, but very few know who the Christian oppositionists are.
Here is a fact: If the minorities of Syria do not take matters in their hands to firmly establish themselves as a political force to be reckon with (By either imposing their will on the SNC to balance its act or by splitting to form their own Council), they will be trampled upon the way the Islamic extremists trampled upon the Iraqi Christian community. We cannot allow this tragic episode to be repeated in Syria. Our future depends on strong and vibrant religious and culturally diverse communities.
A word of comfort is overdue here. Our Syrian minorities need to know that they have plenty of support amongst many of our people who will not hesitate to fight for their safety and their prosperous future the way they will fight for every Syrian no matter what.
This, we can promise you with full confidence.