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Syrian uprising needs civil protection, no foreign state intervention

The way to hell is paved with good intentions

11. September 2011
by Ali Nasser

With reference to the recent “Friday of international protection” the Anti-imperialist Camp asked Soubhi Hadidi, a leading Syrian political activist of the opposition and literary critic.

Q: September 9 has been named by the Syrian popular movement „Friday of international protection“. Do they really call for international intervention?

One must differentiate between international protection by states and governments on one hand and civil organisations on the other hand. The first ones we cannot trust as they follow their own agenda and use double standards regarding human rights. But the second idea means that NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and human rights groups should send observers. That implies also free movement for the Arab as well as the international media. Their presence across the Syrian towns could significantly curtail the brutality of the regime. This demand is different to calling upon the US or the UN who do not follow unselfish interests.

Q: Some exile groups have been demanding sanctions on the Syrian state. Do you support them?

I am against such sanctions as they harm more the people than the regime. The regime and their mafia networks are able to swiftly adapt to such situations and move their money to save places. The current Western sanctions are cosmetic if not ridiculous. They are an evidence of Western hypocrisy who under public pressure want to appear as if they would do so. On the other hand sanctions against individuals crucial for the regime would be more efficient. I businessmen like the head of the trade organisation of Aleppo and others which are linked to political power. They hold investments in Europe and could be pressurised. Exactly those people pay the pro-regime thugs.

Q: The last weeks saw several abroad conferences of Syrian opposition which elected or appointed political representatives. How far do they represent the popular uprising at home?

Most of these meetings are sterile and do more harm than benefit to the uprising. Their real aim is to satisfy exile opposition groups which lack significant support in Syria herself, like the Muslim Brotherhood or big businessman like Sonqor. I believe the opposition at home is able – even if with modest means – to articulate itself politically. The exile conferences split more than they unified the opposition. They create frustration and negative impact on the activists in Syria and do not help the uprising.

Q: You mean you cannot take them seriously?

On the contrary, we need to take them seriously but in a negative sense. They are not only no support for the uprising, but a threat for it. And that is serious. They are not kidding when they meet Zionists of the profile of Bernard Henry Levy in Paris. Their aim is to nominate a transitional, co-ordination or national council (whatever name it might carry) which will pave its way to the Elisée, Downing street and the White house. They what to become interlocutors of the West.

I do not want to defame anybody. Many do care of the fate of their country and they have good intentions. But the way to hell is paved with good intentions.

Q: The nominated persons represent, however, a large consensus, aren’t they?

Yes, but this is one of the most destructive effects. Those persons, who so far have been considered as enjoying far reaching consensus, after being nominated must strive to please all. Somebody like Burhan Ghalioun, who is widely recognised, must now compromise with the Muslim Brotherhood. He is forced to keep quiet on political topics which he should indeed address. In this way he exposes himself to political attacks causing the loss of consensus.

Q: That ist he first priority fort he Syrian uprising and the solidarity abroad?

Top priority is to secure the continuity of the uprising and to strengthen its capabilities. For example logistic support, medical help, secure houses and more accurate media reporting would urgently be necessary. Abroad support from media and public opinion would be helpful. Most important would be, however, not to disturb the uprising by those useless conferences and councils.

The media must report correctly: The Syrian public asks for civil protection and not for intervention of foreign states. A civil protection campaign is urgent as the regime in its death agony is committing the most heinous crimes. Meanwhile the popular uprising is trying to gain strength and forge unity.