2011 / 10 / 24
Although your invitation came few months later than it should be, it is still a valid call and worth discussing and acting upon. Your call for an opposition meeting in Damascus appears to be crucial and appealing; however, there are many hurdles that may impede the realization of this call.
First, I understand the reason for which you are calling to hold the meeting in Damascus. Likely, it is because you rightly believe that most of the key opposition figures reside in Syria and they can’t travel outside the country. However, do you think the regime would let you carry out such meeting inside Syria? A close look at the regime’s behavior reveals that the regime is extremely insecure and paranoid. We saw such paranoia and insecurity with every political move carried out by the opposition, as it happened during the Damascus Spring and after the establishment of “The Damascus Declaration for Democratic Change in Syria”. During the first, when the regime’s “attack dogs” were not able to keep up with the ideas discussed in the forums, the regime closed these forums hastily and unleashed its “dogs” to impugn the nationalistic credentials and physically assaulting the opposition figures. Also, the regime felt that its existence was threatened when “The Damascus Declaration” was established, therefore it responded to it by persecuting its leaders, putting them in prison, restricting their movements, and stripping them from their passports. Hence, the regime was able to paralyze the Damascus Declaration (Frankly, the leaders of the Damascus Declaration” were naïve to think that regime would behave in a different manner). Therefore, I will ask you: Is it realistic to think that the regime would every let the opposition hold a meeting for the in Damascus?!!
Second, taking into consideration the current state of the opposition, do you think a meeting that encompasses the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition would be successful? The Syrian opposition is so fragmented, dispersed and preoccupied by trifling differences. Indeed, the Syrian opposition is deeply divided along its ideological lines. There is nothing wrong about having different opposition groups with distinct ideologies, however it is bad to reject others merely because they hold different believe than us; we call this phenomenon “ideological rigidity” or “ideological intolerance”. In fact, “ideological intolerance” is against the basic understanding human nature and consequently it is against the principles of democracy. Alarmingly, since the Syrian opposition groups are too adamant as regarding to their respective ideologies and do not look at the existence of multitude of belief systems as a natural human phenomenon, they project at their counterparts a label of lack of faithfulness to the nation. Furthermore, this “ideological intolerance” makes me worry not only as regard to the ability of the opposition to unite a common cause, such as fighting the regime in this critical time of the history of Syria, but also about the future country once the regime falls. In my opinion, before inviting the opposition for a general meeting, the opposition need a “mediator” who can exert a “shuttle diplomacy” (I am so sorry to use of Henry Kissinger expressions. Although I dislike his Machiavellian principals and his disrespect for human life, I admire his diplomatic ingenuity) to will work hard to reduce their mutual sensitivity and mistrust. This person should be neutral and have good understanding of politics, the art of diplomacy and human psyche.
P.S. This was a response for call to hold a meeting for the Syrian opposition in Damascus in July, 2011