By: Ibrahim al-Amin
Published Sunday, December 4, 2011
The foreign powers intervening in Syria to bring down President Bashar Assad want to speed things up. This has compelled oppositionists to show their hand, stripping them of yet more cards.
It has long been clear that the most influential bloc in the Syrian offshore opposition had effectively joined forces with an American-led western alliance that is hostile to Arab resistance aimed at liberating occupied territory – whether from Israeli or American occupation.
The bulk of these groups used to flaunt their patriotism by accusing the regime of not wanting to recover the Syrian territory occupied by Israel.
But on Friday, the Syrian National Council’s chief spokesman, Burhan Ghalioun, was forced (and there is no other explanation for it) to come clean about the nature of the payback required of the Syrian opposition by its US, Turkish, Gulf, and European supporters.
Ghalioun told the The Wall Street Journal in an interview that under a new opposition-led government, “there will be no special relationship with Iran…Breaking the exceptional relationship means breaking the strategic military alliance.” He added that “Hezbollah after the fall of the Syrian regime will not be the same.” Describing the relationship between the Syrian regime and Iran as “abnormal,” Ghalioun said an SNC-led government would oversee a broad reorientation of Syria’s foreign policy towards an alliance with the principal Arab powers. Syria would remain committed to recovering the occupied Golan Heights from Israel, albeit via negotiations rather than resorting to armed conflict.
What do His Excellency President Burhan Pasha’s remarks mean?
They explain why the word ‘Israel’ was not mentioned in the political program issued by the Syria National Council (SNC). They explain why this program, and the vast majority of statements made by SNC leaders, focus on the domestic situation in Syria, deeming it a priority unconnected to any regional questions. It explains why they speak in general terms of the need for political, economic, and social reconstruction in the manner of March 14 in Lebanon – i.e. in the manner of the unseated Hosni Mubarak, who, along with Zine al-Abidine Ben-Ali, used to justify his foreign policy by claiming he was putting his country’s interests ”first.”
Very well. Burhan Pasha is telling us what he, and a good number of those working for governments belonging to the foreign alliance opposing the regime in Syria, secretly think. They oppose the idea of resistance to liberate the land, and in practice want to achieve peace with Israel. He is telling us that the Camp David, Wadi Araba, and Oslo models provide the right means for dealing with the Israeli occupation. In other words, he is promising his people the same things that the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and the Palestinians have suffered for the past three decades as a consequence of this isolationist approach. It is an illusory isolationism, and amounts in practice – as in the case of the Lebanese Right – to deferring to the US-led alliance which safeguards Israel’s interests in the region.
Burhan Ghalioun means to say that the Syrian people do not attach undue importance to their sovereignty, independence, or broader Arab national identity. Burhan Pasha is telling us that the New Syria wanted by the Syrian people is one that will aim to indulge the US in Iraq and the region, to relieve Israel of the burden of a Northern Front and the Lebanon and Gaza fronts, and to put the Gulf states – with the US behind them – at ease on two counts. First, with regard to their obsession about the relationship that has evolved between Iran and Syria. Secondly, about the aftermath of Iraq’s impending liberation from the US’ occupation forces and its dominant influence over political decision-making in the country.
There is no need to read between the lines of what Ghalioun said, as some reports sought to do, or add any explanations. He made clear that his outfit will take Syria out of the regional alliance of which it is an essential part – the alliance comprising the resistance and its supporters – and into another alliance, the one currently striving to topple the current regime in Syria. The latter opposes the resistance, and defers to the US and Israel’s demands to deny support to the forces of resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. As for Ghalioun’s desire to turn to the ‘international community’ to recover the Golan Heights, that simply replays the tune of all who sought peace as supplicants, and thus negotiated agreements that brought shame and poverty to over 100 million people.
Ghalioun also referred in his interview with the American paper to his SNC’s relationship with the Free Syrian Army. He spoke of an agreement to “focus their operations on the protection of civilians and not to perform offensive attacks.” Can we therefore await explanations from him of what is happening on the ground? He went on to declare: “We do not want, after the fall of the regime in Syria, armed militias outside the control of the state.” He might do well in this regard to consider the experience of Libya, during and since the overthrow of the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi. He could then teach his students courses on Creative Chaos in the Cause of the Caliphate, by the learned scholar Bin-Belhadj.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.