Is the crisis in Syria heading down the path of the Libyan scenario? And to what extent are the regime’s stubbornness and bloodiness preparing to open the door to a foreign armed intervention, which would transform the Syrian revolution into a tragedy that would threaten the very survival of the Syrian state?
The danger is present, though not very likely, as Syria lacks petrol – the booty that attracted Western greed as in the case of Libya, and Iraq before.
America and its satellites act in a very pragmatic way. They are not concerned about tens of thousands of people injured or martyred. They may even prefer the situation as it is: the Arab Syrian army worn out in a bloody war against the people. And the Syrian regime challenged and undermined, but not overthrown, because the West does not know exactly where Syria would be going after Bashar. They don’t trust Burhan Ghalioun’s pledges of peace with Israel, which explains why Washington and other Western regimes hesitate to officially recognise Ghalioun’s opposition Syrian National Council.
That Council on one hand includes the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the main sectors of the opposition, but on the other hand most of its other members have dubious identities and backgrounds, are close to intelligence circles – including the Syrian secret services – or simply opportunists, seekers of illegitimate fortunes as money is flowing in from the Gulf states. There are a few others who stand for the Damascus Declaration and are not tempted to collaborate with Washington. And then there is a constant appearance and disappearance of Syrian groups who claim to represent the revolution and sell Syrian blood like a merchant who sells wares who are not his own, but eagerly accepts cash advances.
These are the people who keep begging for a foreign military intervention, for establishing and securing no-fly zones, pretending to protect civilians and to stop the bloodshed, though in fact any foreign military intervention means more bloodshed and the destruction of Syria, of the land and the people, and a transformation of the revolution into an open civil war. Syria might – God forbid – disintegrate. A foreign intervention is not a remedy to a disease, but jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
Attaining national sovereignty and liberation from personality cults are essential goals of any great national revolution, including the Syrian revolution which is still on-going and seems trapped in marginal regions without access to the heart of Syria – Damascus and Aleppo – where half of the population lives and where the regime has barricaded itself with its savage apparatus.
Just a few weeks ago, the Coordination Committee and Ghalioun’s National Council issued a joint statement. The Coordination Committee includes the basic opposition groups active within Syria, and almost every influential group is a member, except the Muslim Brotherhood. The Coordination Committee and the National Council agreed to reject a foreign intervention in any form or disguise. They agreed not to consider an intervention of other Arab forces a foreign intervention, but an Arab intervention does not seem feasible. The Arab observers’ mission is stumbling and the bloodshed in Syria continues. The ruling family, the clan of the dictator does not seem ready for any compromise, which has created the psychological atmosphere for demands for a foreign intervention, and has prepared the ground for the ultimate sin, not just to destroy Bashar’s regime but to destroy Syria herself.
The first to benefit from the demand for a foreign intervention is Bashar’s regime itself. An intervention harms the cause of the revolution and stains the reputation of its supporters.
* Demanding an intervention facilitates the regime’s agenda of accusing them of treason and being agents of foreign powers.
* Demanding an intervention helps the regime to paint a fraudulent image of the events in Syria, and casts dark shadows on the overwhelming popular desire to end an oppressive regime that has been robbing its own people.
* Demanding an intervention helps the regime to portray the revolution as if it were a colonial conspiracy against the very patriotic regime.
* Demanding an intervention pleases the regime and helps it to rally supporters who originally hesitated to join the revolutionary marsh.
The regime is also aware how difficult it is for the Americans to decide on military intervention. At the same time the US have maintained communication links with the regime, and remain content with fiery statements against Bashar in public, without the will to cross another Middle Eastern mine field teeming with hatred against the Americans, the guardians of Israel.
The United States hesitate to completely antagonise Russia, who considers Syria her most reliable ally in the region, for whom she used the veto in the Security Council. Russia is trying to stop Syria’s deterioration, and offers her efforts to build bridges between the regime and the opposition inside and outside Syria.
All in all so far, the crisis is escalating in Syria, and the bloodshed doesn’t cease one single day. The cause of the revolution is in dilemma, and it is not going to progress one single step by calling for a foreign intervention; on the contrary, exactly the opposite may take place. Demanding a foreign intervention is a sure path to disorientation and total betrayal to the revolutionary cause. The solution is in Syria herself. The solution is in true loyalty to the blood of the scores of thousands of the revolution’s martyrs and injured. The solution is in carrying the spark of the revolution from the uprising at the margins into the heart of Syria. With persistence and heroism of Dar‛a, Idlib, Homs, Hama and Abu-Kamal, where the revolutionary unrest began, to spread it to the suburbs of Aleppo and to the countryside around Damascus. The conscience among the troops is increasingly splitting the army, and is playing a role that is more influential than we might think. The apparent coherence of the regime and the apparent absence of major splits in its closed structure are not going to last much longer. The oppressive security apparatus of the regime is continually exhausted in the fields of blood. Each massacre the regime commits adds to the hostility it faces, to further cracks in the walls of fear and to a stronger inclination towards internal splits – provided the confusion by calls for foreign intervention can be avoided. Such calls help the regime to mobilize its military and security apparatus, suggest to its agents that they are waging a patriotic battle, and cover up the truth of the oppressive war.
In short: calling for a foreign intervention serves the regime, betrays the revolutionary cause, and threatens Syria with disintegration. What is required is not – God forbid – to destroy Syria, but to destroy the regime and let Syria rise from the ashes, according to the wish of her people, who long for a democratic Arabic homeland.
Translation: Qais Abdalla, Vienna, Austria
* Abdel-Halim Kandil (Abdulhaleem Qandil) is a senior Egyptian journalist and political leader of the opposition. He was one of the most prominent critics of Mubarak’s regime. In 2004 he was kidnapped by goons, beaten up and left naked in the desert outskirts of Cairo. His brave reaction sparked of the Kifaya (“Enough”) opposition movement from 2005 onwards of which he was a leading figure. After the fall of Mubarak the leftist nationalist news outlets, he is involved with, is again target of the SCAF’s censorship.