Syria conflict: Backing for Khatib

A peaceful protest in Hama, July 22, 2011.

The Syrian Revolution is the first major popular revolution of the 21st Century. Like most popular revolutions, the erstwhile ideals of its early leaders, a group of secular nonviolence activists, were soon set aside as the violent crackdown unleashed by the Assad regime, with the support of its regional and international backers, most notably Iran and Russia, produced a similar violent backlash among its opponents. Consequently, the country was plunged into a civil war in which various regional and international players cultivated their proxies along sectarian and ideological lines. The indifference of the international community and the unwillingness of major powers to push for a quick political solution, or to at least back moderate rebels at a time when they formed the majority of rebel fighters, have called into question the very legal and intellectual foundations of the new global order that seemed to be emerging following the end of the Cold War and the formulation of such legal doctrine as the Responsibility to Protect. The Syrian Civil War has so far claimed close to 250,000 deaths by conservative estimates, dislocated more than half the country’s population of 23 million, with an estimated 5 million becoming refugees in neighboring countries and the European Union, and destroyed the majority of the country’s infrastructure. The result is the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st Century, so far.

Khatib's call for conditional dialogue with the Syrian government has been backed by unlikely the source - Ammar Abdulhamid a usually hawkish Syrian dissident and blogger.

Abdulhamid, fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is regarded as a NeoCon thinktank, said an armed struggle should continue alongside Khatib's call for talks.

In his latest blogpost Abdulhamid noted the popularity of Khatib and his proposal among ordinary Syrians.

In the public eye, Khatib now appears as one of very few members of the opposition who can support the revolution without being oblivious to the suffering of the people as well ...

Syrian opposition groups need to give Khatib more time to act and should judge the success or failure of his initiative by the change it can produce in western policies towards supporting the opposition and the rebels. And we don’t have to postpone our judgement for too long. If, by May, the Obama administration has not adopted a more proactive attitude towards intervention in Syria, then, we can judge the initiative to have failed. Personally, I would still judge it as a laudable effort that deserves to have been made, and I would still see in Moaz a good and courageous leader for having embarked on this course and tried something different for change ...

I have longed argued that military and political processes are not mutually exclusive, and should not be thought of with an either/or mentality. For unless rebels make serious military gains, including neutralizing Assad’s air power, no viable political process can be launched. Moreover, no political process can be seen as credible if it is not led by figures who can appeal to the grassroots and to the average Syrian, irrespective of his political stands at the moment. We did not have such a figure until Moaz al-Khatib entered the scene.

via Syria conflict: opposition suggests talks with vice president - Tuesday 5 February 2013 | World news |

© 2013, Ammar Abdulhamid. All rights reserved.


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