It has been more than two years into the Syrian uprising now, so why has not the Syrian regime fall yet? What are the bases of its strength? Where did the Syrian opposition go wrong?
One of the tactics the Syrian regime has always employed is to stifle any possibility of any political alternative to ensure that the Syrian people and the world have only two choices: either Assad or chaos and Islamic radicalism.
The regime has succeeded in marginalizing the Syrian opposition politically and socially through persecution and detention, yet it failed to take away its moral high ground. Sadly, with the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, the opposition inability to create a credible political alternative to the Syrian regime cost them their moral high ground.
The Syrian opposition fatal fiasco was its inability to present a decent political programme and a clear roadmap to change. Even now, more than two years into the uprising, Syrians have no clue about how to bring down the regime and the form of the post-Assad state; the future of the economy, and the future of international relations and foreign policy, the relations with Palestine, Hezbollah and the axis of "defiance," and the occupied Golan Heights … The opposition leaders managed to deliver many eloquent speeches, but failed in suggesting any serious political change programme!
Their inability to address the aforementioned issues made the Syrian opposition prioritize overthrowing the regime above all else, seeking help even from groups with agendas highly contradicted to the state project advocated by Syrians. This policy led some opposition members to alley with Jabhat Al-Nusra, and other powers pushing the uprising in a maze of international and regional interests far away from the best interest of Syrians. This blunder provided the Syrian regime with a long-waited opportunity to achieve two goals:
First: it cost the Syrian opposition its moral high ground; its only source of superiority over the regime. They did not notice that their alliance with groups such as Jabhat Al-Nusra would ruin their reputation, exactly what the regime wanted. This has alienated major blocks of the Syrian public from the opposition even though they don’t support the regime. Those Syrians prioritize security and personal freedom over political freedom, a fact that regime and its propaganda machine managed artfully to address and to exploit in raising their concerns about the future of Syria. These concerns were reinforced by the absence of a clear vision shared by the opposition about the shape and nature of the future Syrian state, except for the statements made by some opposition leaders to announce that Jabhat Al-Nusra and the likes of it (who made it clear from the beginning that they want to create a radical Islamic state!) are partners in deciding the future Syria.
Second: finding a common denominator between the regime and Western powers on the subject of the war on terrorism, which the regime has long exploited since September 11 and after the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Moscow and Washington may disagree on almost everything in Syria, but they would definitely unite on the issue of terrorist threats from Jabhat al-Nusra and other radical Islamists groups. This issue has created common grounds for the regime and the international community, which is confirmed by the reluctance of Western countries to arm the Syrian opposition out of fear that the arms would end up in the hands of terrorists. In addition, they have been pressuring the Free Syrian Army to fight and rid of the extremist groups within the opposition before fighting the regime thus creating common grounds between the regime and the opposition in the fight against terrorism. A fact that would result in prolonging and complicating the Syrian civil war.
The above explains how the absence of alternative on the political level, and the absence of a clear vision regarding the future state, a matter considered by the opposition as a secondary concern to overthrowing the regime, has in fact resulted in prolonging the life of the regime.
Another important related point is that even though the countries supporting the uprising want to get rid of the Syrian regime, but this does not mean that they would agree to handover the power to just any other alternative. They want an alternative capable of protecting their interests, and to achieve stability in the region and preserving the regional balance of power. It is a game of political interests, not of feelings and political morality. This means that regional and international powers will not push for the departure of the regime before they know the direction and intentions of the Syrian opposition. Otherwise, the opposition would be used just as means to pressure the Syrian regime to change its behaviour.
We are dealing with an opposition that has persisted for a long time to resist the obvious facts putting the cart before the horse and the most important question remains:
Is it time to create a political alternative -an alternative that will only be determined when we decide what Syria we want in the future- and to define the powers in the opposition with real interest in the project of the democratic secular state? Is the opposition to admit their mistakes capable (especially those who embraced Jabhat Al-Nusra), and to take at least one step in the right direction?
**Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rozana Radio.