Everybody is fighting for something in Syria: the regime for survival, the protesters for freedom, and the opposition for a purpose. But the opposition is the only side doing a lousy job of it.
Background to yesterday’s announcement of a National Transitional Council:
Having concluded that the opposition was hopelessly divided and fractious and, therefore, unable to form the much needed body that can represents the revolution on the international scene, not to mention take over the responsibility of managing the affairs of the country during the transitional period to democracy, protest leaders inside the country were indeed holding discussions on the need take the initiative in this regard. Three scenarios were being considered.
The first, and least popular, called for allying with one of the already established groups: Antalya Group, Brussels Council, Salvation Council, or the Istanbul National Council. The proponents of this proposal, however, ended up trying to merge the different groups by working out a formula based on percentages and political, national and religious affiliations that seemed to go nowhere.
The second, which was (and still is) closer to my heart, urged shunning the traditional opposition all together by forming a small working group outside the country and entrusting it with representing the revolution in an ambassadorial capacity, and with contacting international organizations with experience working on transitional issues to help put together a transitional plan for Syria. The Transitional Council itself, according to this proposal, could only be established on Syria soil by protest leaders after regime collapse. The Council would include protest leaders, some members of the traditional opposition and some members of the working group.
The third proposal, however, the one endorsed by the majority of opposition figures and protest leaders who heard about it, inside and outside the country, called straight out for the formation of a transitional council, without necessarily using that term and without need for holding conferences. The idea was just to put a list that protest leaders inside Syria and some of the key names on the list can agree on than announce it to the world and let the nominees decide what they want to do. The council will then by endorsed by protesters during their demonstrations, thus giving it the necessary legitimacy, both internally and internationally.
So, when the announcement was made on Al-Jazeerah yesterday I thought, like many others privy to these goings-on, that the proponents of the third proposal had won the day, as expected, and that they were ready with their list. This might still be the case. But it now seems that the announcement was rushed. There were problems with some names on the list, but the more important issue, was that of time: key people, we are told, were not given enough time or notice to have their say. This led to some confusion, disgruntlements, accusations and denials. Still, with protests in several communities, including Baba Amr in Homs, the hometown of the declared leader of the Council, rushing to voice their support of the Council, people might need to revise their position. The protesters are desperate for progress on this matter, and they are tired, weary and angry. The inability of the opposition to unite on this matter might push the people towards violence, and things could easily get out of control.
We now an initiative that has the backing of key segments within the protest movement, the rush to announcement may not have been such a good idea, especially if done by way of ending a dispute, be that as it may, the sentiments on the streets being what they are, no one can afford to go back to the drawing board at this stage, we need to push forward. The way we got to where we are now may have been far from ideal, but what matters now is that we are here. The council has some pretty credible names, and we can all work with it.
And for those who asked: no, I was not selected as a member of the council, but, yes, my wife Khawla Yusuf, was. But none of us was actually involved in the actual talks regarding the third proposal, still, we both hope that people make up their minds as soon as possible, and hopefully end up endorsing this effort, because we are not sure, people will be able to trust the opposition any longer should this effort fail as well. This is the Eid, and people are still getting killed, including children.
I don’t like to resort to emotional blackmail, but seeing that most of the names are pretty well-known, (indeed most of the names have already been circulated before), and that it will be up to these people to adopt their plan of action, why should we not go with this?
In Lattakia City, an early morning protest meant to celebrate the Eid, people carry a banner supporting the Transitional Council http://youtu.be/V1P5qnUX0oY In the Homsi Neighborhood of Baba Amr, people carried an even larger banner, after all, Burhane Ghalyoun is from Homs:
Sources within security apparatuses reveal that the Assads have not been able to pay their hired guns, who charge $40-100/day (depending on the region, 100 being the usual payday in Aleppo) on weekdays and between $150-200 on Fridays, for few weeks now. As a result many are threatening to quit.