A series of mistakes make it imperative for the SNC to elect new leader(s), or risk becoming completely irrelevant.
Thursday 5, 2012
Today’s death toll: 31. The breakdown: 13 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Homs City including a woman, 6 in Deraa, 4 in Rural Damascus (3 in Hamouriyeh), 1 in Lattakia and 1 Idlib. Additionally, 5 would-be defectors were killed by Loyalists in the village of Sur in Deraa/Hauran Province.
Reuters report that Syria releases 552 people detained during civil unrest. But the real story is that the regime had arrested more than ten times this number since the AL delegation began its work. It's a case of the right hand doing things meant to distract attention from what the left hand is doing.
Keep Eyes on Prize or Go Bust!
In his interview with BBC, President of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun explains that “SNC's strategy for overthrowing the regime rests on the street protest. But for the past 11 months, there has been a bloody stalemate.” He also says that “the safe area he wants would tip the balance, allowing mass defections of Syrian soldiers and their families.” This is indeed the view of many opposition figures and protesters.
But, the BBC correspondent asks: “What if the international community does not come through? Ghalioun answers: "Then we would seek an international conference on Syria to stop the atrocities and the killings… "We cannot just sit by and watch our people being slaughtered. Our conscience will not allow it."
On the surface, this might sounds like an OK answer, but, to me, it’s very troubling. The main goal of the revolution is regime change. If stopping the atrocities and the killings becomes the goal, then, the best result that could be achieved down the road is some kind of power-sharing arrangement, and the Assads will have won. As a cofounder of the NCB (the National Coordination Body), a body that is dedicated to achieving exactly that power-sharing arrangement rather than straight-out regime change, it seems that Ghalioun’s move to head the SNC has not really changed his basic outlook on things. Of course, Ghalioun did not join the SNC on his own, rather, he brought with him a lot of people who seem to share his outlook on things. As such, the problems with the SNC are pretty much similar to those within the ranks of the NCB: many of its members seem to represent their own individual and ideological visions and interests rather than the demands of the protesters. And the protesters can see it.
This video from the town of Rastan in Homs Province underscores the growing divide between SNC and NCB leaders and the protesters, while featuring a confession by the AL monitor that the monitors cannot provide any protection to the civilians, because they are not a military force. The activist tells the Monitor: the SNC does not represent us, the NCB does not represent us. We want international protection. We demand our freedom. We want to topple the regime. We don’t want to dialog. If the Arab League cannot protect us, then we demand the internationalization of the Syrian File by referring it to the UNSC. The video was just uploaded but was made during the AL monitors visit to Rastan on December 3 http://youtu.be/LM5pMOCvngc
This sentiment is not only restricted to Homs and environs and has long been echoed in other protests communities as well, such as Douma in Rural Damascus (Dec 4) Banner “Down with Ghalioun, the Conspirator” http://youtu.be/RtxX6_pBmXk And Deraa City: Speaker in a nighttime rally in Deraa City (Dec 4) http://youtu.be/GSi6hJMcuh4 reminds that the NCB will not be accepted until it subscribes to the demands of the Revolution, and that any person in the SNC who deviates from this demand will be rejected http://youtu.be/zffFFrcxqs4
The idea for an international conference on Syria might provide a way for legitimating international intervention while sidestepping Russian and Chinese vetoes at the UNSC, and will indeed be an ingenious solution for legitimating said intervention. But, in the absence of an international will to intervene, it could only legitimate a power-sharing arrangement. That seems to be the option that Ghalioun believes in in his heart, a faith that continues to influence his utterances and leadership style. With the wrong people at the helm, good ideas will go to waste. If we are to be saddled with the SNC for the foreseeable future, there is increasingly little justification to be saddled with Ghalioun as well. Ghalioun must go! The SNC needs wise consensus builders at this stage, not confused narcissists.