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The Syrian opposition does not have to prove itself | News

By Haris Afzal on Saturday, October 1, 2011 with 0 comments

The Syrian 'opposition' does not have to prove itself
The Syrian 'opposition' does not have to prove itself
We do not do justice to the Syrian people when we use the term "opposition" to describe those who are in revolt against the Assad regime. What is

now being called the opposition is in reality Syrian political society that has been hijacked for decades – and it is from this society with all its rich

diversity that a new government and its opposition will emerge after the fall of the regime.

Using the terminology of a regime in power and an "opposition" against it ultimately legitimises the regime itself and puts the onus on that opposition to

prove its own legitimacy. This is not just an academic or semantic distinction; it is easy to become trapped in a framework that lends a sense of

normality to what is happening in Syria.

The regime is keen to present a certain narrative: that there is no viable alternative to its rule; that beyond it is total chaos with Islamic fundamentalism,

sectarian tension, partition, violence and civil war. It accuses the protesters of being manipulated and armed by foreign powers, and claims, on its part,

to be pursuing stability and reform.

By normalising the situation we impose the burden of proof on the protesters who assert that they are united, non-sectarian, nonviolent and

independent. No matter how many such peaceful demonstrations occur, all it takes is for a couple of incidents of violence or a sectarian interpretation

of tension to be reported for the world to start buying into the regime's narrative.

Moreover, we cannot require protesters to confirm their unity; it is natural that they are not united. Diversity is their strength, not their weakness. Nor

can we expect them to prove that they are a viable alternative; the Syrian regime has survived by allowing no such alternatives to emerge or to seem

viable. It is precisely because of this that the regime is being opposed. If it had allowed for a credible opposition to be visible, there would be no need to

change it.

The simple fact is that any person who had the potential to constitute a challenge to the power of the regime has been eliminated, is out of the country,

in jail, or dead. Many have been forced to compromise or were co-opted through blackmail or to protect their family. The security services have often

created their own alternatives as decoys to trap opponents of the regime.

The result is an atmosphere of extreme suspicion and intrigue. Thus one cannot accuse the exiles of being exiles, nor those who have stayed of being

collaborators. They are all victims of the same system and we are imposing on them impossible conditions if we ask them to prove that they are a viable


Category: World News



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