What Syria Needs
by Kamal Allabwani
The nature of dictatorships in the Middle East exaggerates the sectarian conflict. The dictator, in need of a support base personally loyal to him, turns to his family first. The dictator draws support from the family, close friends, and business partners such that the circle never expands beyond his home village and sect. Those who offer their loyalty are rewarded with privileges and protections such as those offered by the Shabbiha. This loyalty is so strong that followers follow orders without question.
I see the sectarian conflict in Syria as an unnatural manifestation of an unnatural system. The rule of the Shabbiha, who are above the law, exaggerates the sectarian conflict. This is an artificial conflict. The Syrian people lived on the same land for more than a thousand years. Only democracy can protect minorities. A dictatorship that rules without justice cannot protect any minority, or even the majority. We condemn those who impede the course of justice and thus allow Bashar’s Shabbiha to carry out their crimes with impunity.
We a new democratic and secular state that respects all religions and human rights. Rights do not differentiate between the majority and minority. In a state that respects human rights everyone is equal under the law.
The Assad regime uses this tight-knit gang, the Shabbiha, to hunt down and eliminate defectors. The Shabbiha also take revenge against defectors by attacking their families. We need to provide assurances for those who live under this threat. This is best achieved by creating safe havens within Syria for defectors and their families. This will increase the rate of defections and cause the regime to contract, making its defeat certain.
The Syrian people have the right to defend themselves against the actions of the regime and its Shabbiha. This is a universally recognized right but we need the help of our friends. We need to push them to give the Syrian people what they need to protect themselves and their families. We must say it out loud. If we believe people have a right to live, then we must give them a fighting chance against the oppression of the regime and the Shabbiha.
Self-defense remains the last measure because of the lack of justice. We cannot accept to die at the command of Assad. We must not allow this dictatorship to prevail.
We accept a peaceful solution that is based on the departure of the regime and transition to the rule of the people. However, we cannot ask the Syrian people to back down. Annan’s plan, which calls for a National Unity Government, can only be implemented after the departure of Assad. This will allow the peaceful revolution to continue without oppression. The UN observers must oversee this transition.
The crisis in Syria must not overshadow the revolution in the country. Yes, there are urgent humanitarian needs but there is also a revolution demanding complete change. The revolution in Syria is not only political but it is also a revolution in culture, society, and religions. The people of Syria want to break with the Age of the Assads and start a new history. The Syrian people are paying a high price for their aspirations for freedom.