Syrian Opposition In Search of Leadership

Nima Sharif
After six months has passed since the start of the popular uprising in Syria against the rule of Assad family; a real political alternative is yet to be established by the opposition.  This gives the ruling government the chance to hold on to power while being crushed by ongoing protests and demonstrations and international condemnations for the killing of over 2700 of its citizens in the nationwide clashes.

Sharq Alawsat, a major Arabic language newspaper published in London, reported that after many conferences and forums and coalitions forming, yet a political alternative to represent the opposition and the people in streets of Syria is far from reach.

While some wonder how six months has not been enough to form an alternative to fill the political vacuum, others see it as a natural phenomenon after almost 50 years of repression and authoritarian rule where no political dissent has been allowed to exit let alone to grow.

The opposition besides being fragmented among those who are inside the country and those outside, it is also divided in type. On one side there are those opposing political parties that are left from the old political system and on the other side the independent and human right activists who are emerging as new movements and unions.

A Syrian analyst who did not want his name to be revealed told Sharq Alawsat that the Syrian government has “managed to fail in every aspect of ruling the country except in blocking advancement of others. But” he added, “While Assad has failed to stop the revolution from continuing, so far, it has succeeded in keeping the opposition from becoming united.”

A unification of the opposition at the current state of the Syria’s affairs will be necessary to prevent a possible Civil war which will definitely result in the failure of the Syrian people’s democratic movement as a whole, says the analyst.

“So the most serious obstacle facing the revolution and the popular uprising is the political vacuum that exists,” conclude the analyst.

Opposition conferences held outside Syria include,

  • Istanbul Conference which was held on April 26 in Turkey attended mostly by Islamic movements involved in the opposition
  • Conference Antalya (Syrian Conference for Change) held in June in which about 300 people attended including Muslim Brotherhood, Damascus Declaration, some Kurdish figures and representatives of those involved in organizing the protests. The conference called on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “immediately resigne” and to “hand over power to his deputy.”  As a result of fundamental differences some parties withdrew from the conference as Muslim Brotherhood and the Kurds.
  • Brussels Conference which was held in June  by the “National Coalition to support the Syrian Revolution” about 200 Syrian opposition figures who live in European countries.
  • Istanbul Conference (National Salvation), held on July 16 with the participation of more than 300 Syrian opposition entities.  A parallel conference was intended to be held at the same time in Damascus but was canceled due to government attacks which resulted to about 12 people being killed.

There have been other conferences held inside the country and many forums and seminars have taken place abroad to be able to provide a solution to the political deadlock.

Despite the failure of Syrian leading figures to introduce a firm coalition to speak for the opposition, the street protests stubbornly continue in the streets of Damascus calling for the downfall of the Bashar al-Assad regime.