SNC in last throes?
15 August 2012
As three major western countries; the United States, France and Britain, lose their confidence in the Syrian National Council (SNC), and start to search for an alternative to speak for the Syrian revolution, this means the SNC has wasted a rare opportunity to lead this revolution and represent the broad segment of the Syrian people who back it.
Those three western countries have earlier acknowledged the SNC and even played a role in its establishment, aiming to create an interim political body in Syria similar to Libya’s National Transitional Council. The western trio were keen on inviting the SNC’s leaders to all the meetings of “the Friends of Syria”, as a sign of their recognition of them. However, the big divergences within the SNC and its failure to unify Syria’s opposition groups under its leadership or even to hold constant contact channels with the groups battling on the ground in the troubled country have led the western trio to turn their back onthe SNC.
The development of the events within Syria is a major factor in driving the western countries to lose confidence in the SNC, as the Syrian revolution’s turn from a peaceful stage to a military one has made the groups working on the ground hugely more reflective of the Syrian people’s views than the groups working abroad.
It was clear that the internal opposition’s leaders were not enthusiastic about the international powers’ recognition of the SNC as a leader of the people’s revolution and a representative of it in the international conferences and meetings. This issue was reflected in several statements issued by the internal opposition’s leaders, in which they said that the SNC members have lost all links to the real conditions in Syria as they have been living in expatriation for a longtime. Most of the SNC are academicians and idealists who know nothing about the political and military struggle on the ground. What looks likely to be the SNC’s end can’t be described as shocking or unexpected as the previous experiences proved that those who carry arms and get involved in the fights are usually getting the right to speak for the revolution and to step up to leadership.
Those who are engaged in the deadly fights taking place in Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib, Deir Ezzor and the rest of the rest of the Syrian provinces are not expected to put themselves under the leadership of a group of academicians living in Paris, London or Washington and do nothing bar competing for the future posts and exchanging accusations amongst themselves and with the other opposition groups.
The Syrian revolution is now an armed one depending mainly on the Free Syrian (FSA), so it is obvious that the field commanders are the ones who should lead the revolution, at least at this stage. That might explain why some western officials like the former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford and the British envoy to the Syrian opposition John Wilkes have recently met some representatives of the FSA and discussed their financial and military needs.
The western powers’ confusion, reflected in their support to the SNC before giving up on it that easily and quickly, is just a sign of the west’s failure in understanding the real situation in Syria. This failure is not expected to be overcome any soon.
The Islamist jihadist groups that reinforced their presence in Syria recently due to the financial and military supplies they got over the last few months, have been working independently of the SNC and the entire traditional opposition in Syria, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Those groups have been currently posing a powerful third party in the conflict, and a backbone for the groups battling on the ground against the regime.
The trio of the United States, France and Britain are now trapped between two choices; whether to recognise these groups and to acknowledge their presence, or to fight them before it is too late. However, this is never an easy choice as recognising these Jihadist groups means that the west is turning a blind eye to its hostility against the jihadist groups. On the other hand, fighting these groups would mean the west is siding with the Syrian regime.
We will not anticipate the western decision over this dilemma, but it could be said with confidence that the Jihadist groups are now standing in front of the scene and posing an unsolvable figure in the Syrian equation. It is too late for any US-western decision to change this fact.