Resolution 2254 and the Nationalism Question
Kefah Saeed Kefah Saeed

Resolution 2254 and the Nationalism Question

Some Syrians try to present the question of the political solution to the crisis and Resolution 2254 as contradicting Syrian patriotism, under the pretext that this resolution is an international one, in which representatives of the Syrian people did not participate. Some even go further and consider it a “colonial resolution.” Regardless whether this opinion is ignoring or ignorance of the content of the resolution and the circumstances that led to it issuance, its only explanation is making national affairs hostage to specific political forces, whether from this or that side, and delegating to them this major strategic issue. Indeed, some believe that defending the homeland has to pass the test of rejecting Resolution 2254, and further that it means defending the status quo.

According to political sociology testings, the evaluation of the validity of a certain structure is either based on analysis and deduction, by deconstructing the phenomenon and categorizing its elements, discovering weaknesses and strengths thereof, and thus determining the extent of its ability to perform the role required of it, or that the evaluation is through concrete experimentation, and the performance of this structure in reality, or through analysis and experimentation together, as is the case in the concrete Syrian case.

The question is, could and can the regime, with its existing structure and the balance of power within it, play the minimum role required of it in protecting national independence, restoring national sovereignty, and continuing the historical role that Syria used to play, as a minimum of the traditionally known national function of any political system? What does the concrete experience during the crisis years indicate?

In Terms of the Analysis

If the socio-economic structure of the political system in Syria is the structure of a subservient capitalist system, that is, part of the global capitalist market, then it is necessarily subject to the laws and tools of this market, including the presence of class forces that regulate the relationship between the domestic market and the capitalist center market, which has been termed “the comprador”.

With the supremacy of liberalization globally, the role of these forces has grown objectively as the local tool for the liberalization process. In the Syrian case, their role has increased as they are part of the controlling class segment as well. In other words, the Syrian financial elite has combined the power duality: an authority derived from being an extension of a global system, and authority derived from its position within the state apparatus, which in practice means a major regression if not an end to the temporary role of the bourgeois bureaucratic segment as one of the bearers of the Syrian national project in past historical occasions (and the bearers that are most circumstantial and tremulous), especially after the main portion thereof has been practically transformed into businessmen.

Nationalism, the Historical Origin

The origins of the national question in Syria go back to the beginnings of the formation of the modern Syrian state, following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Syrian elite was divided between those who wanted to remain under the Ottoman banner, and those forces that bet on the victorious West in the First World War, leading to accepting the tutelage and mandate. Meanwhile, the independence patriotism trend emerged at the hands of a third group, represented by Yusuf al-Azma’s position in the Battle of Maysalun.

Nationalism and Geopolitics

Historical development and geopolitics imposed on Syria that the battle of nationalism would be one of the existential challenges facing the Syrian state. Within this characteristic, the Syrian national awareness formed, grew, and crystallized, such that it became part of the components of its existence, to the point that any disregard of the nationalism question by a ruling regime would soon result in the ousting of said regime. Additionally, the international balance in the sixties and seventies was a catalyst in the continuation of the effects of this Syrian nationalism characteristic, and even brought the regime and Syria a large political profit that enabled it to play a regional role that outweighs Syria’s natural economic and demographic role, despite the existence of regional centers that have much great economic and demographic weight.

Nationalism and the Class Dimension

With the major shifts in the international balance of powers, and the quantum shifts in the country’s political system structure, this nationalism characteristic in Syria has been diluted over the last few decades. Additionally, the effects of the crisis, mainly the way the regime dealt with the crisis in recent years, played an additional role in weakening the country’s historical regional role.

If we put aside the regime’s intentions, the concrete experience through the real outcome of the regime’s positions during the crisis confirmed that it is no longer able to express this absolute characteristic that the geopolitics has granted to Syria. Rather, the continuation of the crisis and its management in the manner the regime has used, will finish off whatever remains of this role, either by achieving actual partition, or through the continuation of the undeclared partition via the existing mechanism of dividing the areas of influence.

The Regime, The State, and Restoring the Role

As mentioned above, the historical role of Syria is not the creation of a certain regime, political party, or movement, but is rather a historical and cultural issue that has an objective reason that is to a large extent related to geopolitics, and any ruling regime can activate or hinder this role depending on its class structure, network of interests, and the existing international balances at the moment in question.

However, transforming this role into a fixed capital, and an investment opportunity to prevent the processes of change and to maintain a historically expired structure and within the network of economic dependence relations, which is what has happened during the past decades, this is no longer possible at all in light of the ongoing international transformation and the effects of the global capitalist crisis and its subsequent consequences, especially with regard to the nature of the relationship between the centers and the peripheries within the new circumstances. This also is no longer possible, above all and before anything else, in light of the Syrian people’s need for growth, development, and stopping the war and destruction.

So either:

  • The regime makes fundamental changes to itself, which is primarily conditioned on disengaging from the system of economic-financial subordination to the West, which has become objectively possible in light of the new international balance of power, but is not allowed by the structure of the regime and the balance of forces within it, as has become clear; or
  • The regime itself changes, by the Syrian people, and create a structure capable of leading the required fundamental change, primarily the issue of subordination.

Starting from this, we see one aspect of the importance of UNSC Resolution 2254 for the general Syrian national interests, especially that this resolution, as it is known, is primarily based on preserving the unity, sovereignty, and independence of Syria, and enabling the Syrian people to decide their destiny, through free and fair elections.

That is, the actual text of the resolution will restore the crisis to its original arena, i.e. the Syrian arena after it had been internationalized, and bring back the absent player from the arena, which is the Syrian people. It is not true, neither in the direct procedural sense, nor in the general political sense, that the resolution is an American one, even if the draft resolution was American, as some claim, it was issued after a vicious diplomatic and media battle until it was agreed upon in the form in which it was issued. Those who would take the time to review the reactions of the various forces at the time, and the actual positions from the resolution since its issuance, will concretely understand the content of the decision.

When it became tangibly clear that a military solution was impossible, when the continuation of the military operations would lead to the attrition and exhaustion of the Syrian state and the Syrian people, when the US chaos project became public, and considering that this could lead to partition and all that comes with that, not only in eliminating Syria’s historical role, but also abolishing the existence of Syria itself as a geopolitical unit. Thus, nationalism requires that the response thereto be the opposite, that is, with a political solution.

Based on all this, Resolution 2254 as a road map for a political solution intersects with Syrian national interests, even though it is an international resolution. From another point of view, it is one of the outcomes of the new international balance, and the rising powers’ pursuit to preserve international law, and respecting the sovereignty of states and the peoples’ right to decide their destinies.