Syria the Eternal

SYRIA LIVES - maintaining its sovereignty, territorial integrity and eventual unity. The credit is due to President Bashar Al-Assad, his tenacity, persistence and commitment, as well as the political and military leadership and state institutions. Externally, thanks must go to genuine allies, particularly Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Mistakes were made, that's regrettable but human; destruction is huge, that's war, imposed not chosen; humans perished, that is tragic; and the economic damage is deep. However, a calamitous consequence of the imposed war on Syria is the loss of segments of the Syrian elites, among which are:

1. the financial and industrial elites

2. the academic and professional elites

3. the Christian elites

4. future elites; millions of Syrian children have not had access to adequate education

With the improved environment in Syria, some elites have returned and more will return once peace and security are established.

What has befallen Syria is understandable in view of the multitude of historic and contemporary conflicts which landed in Syria like earthquakes making Syria the epicenter of these conflicts, among which are:

1. Ijtihad vs. Jihad, (the pen vs. the sword)

2. Sunni vs. Shia

3. Ottoman vs. Persian vs. Arab

4. Arabism vs. Islamist extremism

5. Arab vs. Israeli

Additionally, a combination of domestic, regional and international unholy alliances with conflicting ulterior agendas were eagerly awaiting the spark to ignite Syria . When the uprising started peacefully in Syria, there were legitimate demands by the demonstrators for "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." However, before too long, the uprising donned the "Arab Spring" was hijacked by the Islamists and turned into "Islamist Spring, Arab Fall and Christian Winter". It didn't take long for the many sleeper cells in Syria to rise and hijack the peaceful uprising; in turn, fueling it into an ugly and violent war.

It is an article of faith in many international, particularly western, sectors that the Syrian military opened fire on the peaceful demonstrations and turned them into violent confrontations. A contrary scenario would be that the sleeper cells infiltrated the demonstrations and initiated the violence for the purpose of which they had been waiting for a long time, the destabilization of Syria.

With the rising violence, the opposition leaders became prominent, though not free agents; many had lived abroad for years and were financed and hosted by countries who had their own agendas for Syria which limited the opposition's independence. The opposition has been plagued by many ills including disunity, disorganization, mismanagement, rivalries and corruption.

During many meetings and encounters I had with some top rank opposition members, I repeatedly heard the mantras "Bashar must go" and "the revolution". As to "Bashar must go", I would repeatedly say for Syria to survive, President Bashar must remain; President Bashar's downfall means Syria's downfall. To the repeatedly invoked "the revolution", my response was a revolution starts with a charismatic leader on the ground leading the masses, not a leader living abroad and "elected" for a few months to be replaced by another "elected" leader also living abroad; chosen by the hosting and sponsoring state. Furthermore, a revolution must have a common denominator, a manifesto for the future. The only common denominator the opposition has is its anti -Bashar stand, with sectarian undertones, and at times "Islam is the solution". No mention of a free, democratic, secular Syria based on citizenship, the hallmark of democratic and modern states.

A continuous handicap which has plagued the opposition and marginalized it, is being at the mercy of the sponsoring states, as each has its agenda for Syria. For the Arab states sponsoring the opposition, the agenda is twofold. The first is sectarian; the establishment of a particular Muslim political order in Damascus in line with the sponsoring state. The second is personal. Prior to the uprising, President Al-Assad referred to the Arab leaders as “half men” which to the Arab male is the ultimate insult; thus a personal grudge.

Turkey has not forgotten Syria, which was part of Ottoman Turkey a mere hundred years ago. Turkey doesn't necessarily want to reclaim Syria or part of it, but it certainly wants to be a power broker and help establish a Muslin political order to its liking in Damascus.

The American agenda for Syria was planned by the Department of Defense in 2001. Retired General Wesley Clark, in an interview and a lecture in 2007, mentioned a visit he made to the Pentagon in 2001 where he was told by a general about a DOD memo which describes how the US will "take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."

Israel, the prime beneficiary of the uprising in Syria without having barely fired a shot, has a grandiose plan which is the establishment of a secure “Great Israel” extending from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea. To do so, Israel has been in the process of establishing a Zionist Crescent which entails the neutralization of the historic three major Arab centers of power, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, which form a Crescent around Israel. The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty neutralized Egypt, thus, the first segment of the Crescent. The 2003 American invasion of Iraq rendered it a fractured and neutralized state, thus, the second segment of the Crescent. An added Israeli benefit from a fractured and neutralized Iraq is the possibility of the establishment of a Kurdish state in Iraq. A non-Arab Kurdish state in the Arab world would provide for a potential Israeli-Kurdish alliance and a justification for the existence of a non-Arab Jewish state in the Arab world since Israel failed previously in the establishment of a Christian state in Lebanon. The uprising in Syria provided Israel the opportunity to render Syria a neutralized state to accomplish the third and final segment of the Zionist Crescent. Syria is downgraded but not neutralized and in the process of recovery.

Syria is the cradle of civilizations and the home of the three monotheistic religions. Damascus and Aleppo are the two oldest continuously inhabited cities. Syria's survival is not only Syrian responsibility but human responsibility.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.