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The Save-Syria Initiative Debated Among Opposition Groups

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Opposition groups are currently debating the principles included by a group of Syrian politicians in exile in their initiative published under the title: A Syrian-Syrian Dialogue. The initiative aims at placing the momentum around the crisis in its current phase within a context that preserves the integrity of Syrian territories, the structure of the State and the inclusive nature of the Syrian society along its history.

Here is the text of the proposal being debated:

Our Homeland Is In Danger

Syria, as a State and a homeland, is currently facing existential risks driven by conflicting international and regional agendas that blatantly disregard the Syrian national will. There is no faith remaining in achieving national salvation and building the desired State of citizenship. It is therefore dangerous for the Syrians to leave their homeland in the hands of foreign parties who seem to see partition on ethnic and sectarian grounds as the only solution. This approach is built on the false assumption that peaceful coexistence among Syrians is impossible. But the heart of the matter is that Syrians continue to see their country as one and only homeland for all its sects and ethnic communities where no differences are made between an Arab and a Kurd, a Sunni and an Alawite, or a Druze and a Christian.

The utter indifference of most countries to the pain of the Syrians, their hopes and hardships.is a baffling reality These countries are even discounting the inevitable repercussions of  a unified nation-state disintegrating while the undeniable reality is that this is leading to more bloodshed and protracted struggle, not to mention the objective impossibility of dividing the land.

For some countries, especially the USA and Iran, the Syrian cause has seemingly turned from an issue of a nation that strives to freely decide destiny , and rebuild its State based on a new  national contract, peaceful coexistence and democratic rule, into an issue of terrorism that calls for adamant confrontation. Terrorism would never have succeeded in penetrating the Syrian society without a regime that terrorizes its people and relies on sectarian terrorist militias coming from Iran, Iraq or Lebanon and without the active contribution of the Iranian State in infiltrating terrorist organizations and its current attempts to transform the Kurdish security forces into an instrument for carrying out its agenda of hegemony.

There is every indication that Iran seeks to fragment Syria by relying on sectarian and ethnic communities that resort to terrorist practices but it has come to realize that imposing its hegemony over Syria through relying entirely on loyalty to the regime –and on these militias – was indeed, preposterous.

We, Syrians are the sons and daughters of a single and unified nation-state;  we are committed to salvaging our country and building a common life and future for ourselves and our children, as we believe that creating mini-states will never ensure peace and security for any of the parties concerned whether inside or outside Syria.

We adhere to the international community’s objective of fighting terrorism – defined in international law as the indiscriminate killing of civilians and we are committed to fighting it in all its forms and figures,. Yet we believe it is unattainable as long as the terrorism of the dictatorship has not ended.

To be clear, there is no hope in rallying all Syrians around the common objective of fighting terrorism as long as there are no solid assurances, the most important of which include: freezing the frontlines, ending the use of barrel bombs, stopping the ethnic cleansing, preventing tampering with the map of Syria, as well as protecting the combatant opposition forces fighting in the Golan. Another important assurance is handing over areas which are under ISIS control today and are populated with a majority of Sunni Syrians, to the military forces of the National Opposition, provided that the Opposition immediately supports civil governance in those areas. This seems. However, unreachable in the new situation that followed Russia’s recent steps. The Russian bold escalation brought back the scenes on Afghanistan and made ISIL more popular and gave it additional momentum..

Yet the likelihood of any such arrangements succeeding has receded in light of the forceful intervention of Russia, a development that is sure to enhance the popularity of ISIS and is reminiscent of the Afghan conflict.

Keeping the regime or reproducing it in any form will only bring more disasters upon Syria and the Syrians and will kill any hope of a successful plan drawn by all Syrians to eradicate terrorism and eliminate all the flimsy pretexts used by all of the regime’s regional and international allies who attempt to defend it.

The Assad regime has all but collapsed despite all attempts by Iran to resuscitate it with ever increasing efforts since 2012. It has not succeeded in allowing it to regain any of the areas it has lost. Our initiative is clear. It does not seek to address the regime, rather it aims to rid the State of its talons after it pledged it to Iran’s will.

The blood of all Syrians, including Alawites, is exploited to serve the strategy of the Assad regime and its supporting forces and represents an existential crime against the future of Syria. They as much as the regime itself -if not more-shall be held as accountable for this crime.

We have every reason to believe that the regime and Iran are endeavoring to craft an Alawite enclave that will lead to nothing but the alienation of the Alawite community from its homeland, culture, language and Arab identity. Such a plan, if successful, will never produce any kind of peace, security, development or self-sustenance; if anything, it will pave the way for the division of the Land based on fear, and will result in ethnic, national and cliental mini-states..

A national dialogue bringing together all Syrians, with a view to draw a map of national salvation, is now of utmost importance if we are to put an end to the transformation of the regime’s constituency into militias controlled by outside patrons. This is imperative to prevent this incubator from turning into militias that are under the will of Iranian militias and other international willpowers.

The Syrian dialog we aspire to attain is the cornerstone on which liberating the will of the Syrians from any foreign hegemony, should be constructed. Moreover, it is the way towards producing the joined national will that will carry us towards the desired national Syrian covenant we all aspire to achieve. The absence or procrastination of this measure will inevitably feed that malignant cancer into a disease that will take over the affairs of the country, especially since this cancer is nourished by the consecutive defeats of the regime on the ground.

Dispelling illusions:

Building the desired National Syrian State, based on the National covenant, will never be attained without being liberated from the prevailing illusions or before acknowledging the following true facts:

  • Past experiences, drawn from the previous years of the revolution, proved that salvation from without, or protecting the Syrian people by foreign actors, is nothing but illusion.
  • The Zero-solution the regime adopted to put out the revolution, or any other zero-solution, for that matter, is a mere historical absurdity.
  • All Iranian attempts to divide Syria have failed miserably after the regime’s contrived zero solution had failed. Although Iran did not succeed in imposing utter hegemony, its attempts to emit the ideology of fear among the Alawite sect might create a medium that leads towards division.
  • There are certain international attempts (which emerged from the conditions that produced social rifts) to verbalize a political formula aimed at impeding the establishment of the State- similar to what had happened in the Dayton Agreement imposed on the Bosnians because they failed at suggesting a nationally-based solution.

Initiative Perspectives:

  • The Initiative was launched from a concrete initial perspective which believes in the unity of Syrian territory, senses eminent danger and perceives the regime’s belief in a political solution as mere futile anticipation. Therefore, this initiative calls upon all vital powers in the regime’s incubator, from all ethnicities, sects and provinces, to take a step forward towards preserving the lives of whomever is left of the Syrian people, provided that this opportunity is open for discussing a plethora of different national issues.
  • This initiative sprang from the fact that as time progresses, the Syrian situation is staggering into further complications. Therefore, it aspires to build the bridges of mutual trust among Syrians and prepares for putting the Syrian cause on the track towards political solutions because the political solution in the current context of complexities has become a multi-phased pursuit; therefore, this initiative does not make reaching a solution a direct objective of the dialog it calls for, despite the fact that the launchers of this initiative wish that. All the issues mentioned by the Initiative as political solution procedures, are mentioned to illustrate the possibility of reaching a realistic political solution.
  • The Initiative is based on a fundamental prerequisite principle; the dialog has to be one between the Syrians themselves, where insightfulness of all parties should be sought when this insight is overlooked by most Arab and international efforts who strived to gather all stakeholders to launch a dialog that leads towards a political solution. A dialog at such level should be pure Syrian effort unprecedented by any Arab or international efforts since this requires a significant level of neutrality and incrementalism. It is principles like these that make the political solution a feasible one, and its road map, clear. No party can ever perceive national issues in the same way its nationals, can.

The terms of the initiative:

  • Hold a Syrian-Syrian dialog among political parties: the National Opposition on one hand, and the regime incubators, on the other. A dialog in which every Syrian commits to circling round one table hoping to dissipate all anxieties and regain lost trust.
  • Have a comprehensive National Syrian dialog for all Syrians, based on the results of the abovementioned, smaller-scale dialog which leads to building a new national and social covenant capable of drawing the features of the new National State and the bases of national reconciliation. This will pave the way for ensuring a secure future for every Syrian in every category in the Syrian society.
  • After the revolution was purposefully manipulated into a vicious war, and after it was deliberately coerced into a detrimental sectarian strife between the Sunnis and the Alawites, it is imperative that we look back on their historical compatibility when trying to build the new social covenant. This will impede any attempts to divide the land into sectarian and ethnic groups which will ultimately threaten the unity of the land, its sovereignty and decision, let alone undermining genuine developments on the level of the Syrian Homeland.
  • Both sides are required to put in place a set of security procedures to ensure a minimum level of stability in the form of freezing combat. Such procedures allow for the deployment of national forces all over the country, as per pre-determined agreements. If the international community decides to deploy peacekeeping forces or other forms of monitoring and supervision, it is not expected that their numbers, or indeed their designated tasks will rise up to the desired level. Therefore, they will not be adopted as an alternative to a Syrian-Syrian agreement. Thus, it is of key importance to have in place a plan that depends on a national force after reaching the desired historical agreement.
  • Reaching an agreement on forming an army and security forces is considered the backbone of any political solution. Restructuring them in a genuine and balanced way agreed upon by all parties, is the most realistic starting point towards addressing the concerns and apprehensions of all Syrians, all over the country.
  • Subsequent to the state of fragmentation that Syria found itself in, where each district, or indeed, village, has become an independent entity that refuses to agree with its neighboring village even on the level of local administration, adopting a strategy of decentralization can be the formula that brings together all Syrian fragments, drawing the main lines of its new image which will dissipate the fears of the different Syrian categories, exorcising the ghost of division which some regional and international forces have been diligently pushing towards.
  • Preserving all State institutions and dealing with them as three different categories, as follows:
  • Institutions that will continue to function even after its corrupt head is cut off. These need to be nurtured and liberated from their corrupt head.
  • The deep-seated civil State institutions which can be used as instruments for controlling the country, the society and the vital resources; any national government can play their executive role. These also, need to be protected and fostered, after stripping them of any forms of corruption.
  • The parasitic institutions that act as the leeches that suck off the blood of the country and form the deep State of the tyrant regime. These need to be dismantled and replaced by national ones.

Finally, this Initiative is a sincere and honest internal Syrian cry, and a complete acknowledgement that it is a Syrian-owned initiative in all of its minutest details. It does not claim to be infallible and it believes that, at this critical stage, the power of the whole holds far more resonance than the power of content. We realize that this Initiative is a courageous and sagacious case in a turmoil of disagreements of the others over the future of Syria. We are a weary nation, exhausted by the investments and solutions of the others. If the intents of friends hold true, let them support us with whatever their friendships dictate. We have never been in more need of the sincerity of true friendship, than we are today.

The Syrian National Advisory Group

Dr. Badr Jamous- the Royal Institute for Human Resources Development.

Dr. Basma Qadamani – the Arab Reformation Initiative.

Dr. Samir al Taqi – Orient Research Center

Dr. Muaiyyad al Rashid – the Royal Institute for Human Resources Development.

Dr. Imad Eddine al Rashid – Outlook Center for Studies and Research.