Thursday, July 21, 2011

A split opposition will not change Syria

The Syrian attempt at revolution continues. President Bashar al-Assad shows an iron will to stay in power, while more and more Syrians call for his removal from power. So far, however, the people see no signs of genuine change in the government. Thousands of people are fleeing into the neighbouring countries, despite the Syrian army’s attempts to prevent them from doing so.

Meanwhile the opposition movement is slowly becoming more organized, with a conference recently held in Istanbul between different opposition parties. The conference called for the end of the regime, for the respect of Syria’s different ethnicities and religious groups, and for the importance of keeping the protests peaceful, for instance through the use of civil disobedience. There is also talk about drafting a new constitution, and about preparations for setting up a national transitional government. On the other hand, however, the conference alienated some opposition factions, notably the Kurdish parties, allegedly since the conference chose to use the official name of the country, namely the Syrian Arab Republic. The Kurds are opposed to using the ethnicized name, and chose therefore to walk out of the conference. This does not promise well for the continued opposition to the regime, and indeed for what comes after the potential fall of the Assad regime. The Kurds cannot be sidelined in the creation of a democratic Syria. Furthermore, many opposition groups do not want to have anything to do with the Muslim Brotherhood, which constitutes a significant part of the opposition.

In addition, the government is reported as attempting to foment sectarian divisions within the country, in order to weaken the opposition. They must not take the bait.

If the opposition movement is to have success, it is of vital importance that they stand together, and that their internal divisions aren’t stronger than their distaste of the government.

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