Undermining the Other, a Synonym for Rejecting a Political Solution
It took several years after 2011 till the idea of a political solution found its way to the official discourse of both the regime and the opposition. Although the idea started appearing in the discourse since around 2013, it has remained secondary to the slogans of “military decisiveness” and “toppling”.
Things continued that way until the end of 2015, when UNSC Resolution 2254 was adopted. Since then, the idea of a political solution appearing in the official discourse on both sides has become common, although it has receded recently, which reflects a delusion and desire to evade the change process that is necessary to end the catastrophe.
What the years following adoption of 2254 have revealed was that the verbal recognition of the idea and necessity of a political solution by the extremists of both the regime and the opposition was nothing more than a maneuver the purpose of which was to postpone the solution, so that perhaps circumstances would permit realization of the extreme slogans, with “military decisiveness” on one side and “toppling” on the other.
In order to keep these two slogans mainly controlling all developments, the extremists worked harmoniously on two parallel fronts. On one side, there was work on delaying recognition of the political solution as much as possible, and then manipulating defining it and its sides so that it becomes virtually impossible to take any real steps therein. On the other side, there continuing to work on the ground to implement the extreme slogans and searching for the necessary regional and international alliances to serve those slogans.
Undermining the Other
Recognizing the political solution implies recognizing the opposing sides as partners in making the future and implies recognizing them as Syrian sides. In contradiction to that, the extremist opposition sides continued to deal with the regime and its supporters as one bloc and characterized them as representing foreign sides on Syrian territory, (i.e., agents of) namely Iran and Russia. In the same manner, the regime’s extremists dealt with the opposition sides as representatives of foreign sides, (i.e., as agents) representing Western countries and Turkey.
Perhaps what is new with regard to the regime is that some of its officials have recently reached the point of saying that there is no patriotic opposition at all. It is known that the regime’s official discourse over the years has maintained a margin within which it says there is patriotic opposition with which understandings could be reached, regardless of which opposition it was talking about and what understanding it meant.
However, for the official discourse to get to the point of there being no patriotic opposition, is practically equivalent to talking about there being no need for a political solution, or even there being justification for it, because how could there be a political solution with “unpatriotic” people?!
In this sense, it could be said that breaking that last thin thread – though we do not think it is a final break – is an indicator of a huge delusion that the issue of the political solution and change has been bypassed once and for all.
From Slogans to Realities
Defending the idea of the opposition’s absolute patriotism is as difficult as defending the idea of the regime’s absolute patriotism. This simply because both ideas are wrong, since within both the regime and the opposition there are strong currents working against the interest of Syria and Syrians, and has been effectively contributing to destroying the country and its people for many consecutive years. On the other hand, the patriotic currents, and patriotic individuals, are there in each of the regime and the opposition. Those are the true supporters of the idea of a political solution that leads to comprehensive radical change that serves the interest of the country and its people.
Elites and Society
There are two very different angles in approaching the idea of a political solution: the first could be describe as the elites’ view angle, and the second the view angle of society and its needs.
The view angle of the elites (in the opposition and regime) can be summarized by the following: military decisiveness and toppling are two slogans that mean the success of one of them is an overwhelming victory for one of the two sides and a crushing defeat for the other; and a political solution means reaching a deal between the elites of the two sides. In any case, the issue is not related to changing the regime and changing how wealth is distributed and how the country is run, the issue is limited to having the power and sharing it between them, no more and no less.
In reality, the chances of one side being crushingly defeated or there being a deal to divide the power between them nearly makes no difference to plundered Syrians who make up 95% of Syrians. As long as the issue is conflict on power and dividing it, and not on changing the socioeconomic system, these Syrians are out of the equation no matter what the deal looks like.
Despite the harshness of what Syrians have endured these years, it also has its benefits. Syrians in the various Syrian regions have experienced the authority of the different “sides”, and have seen the same corruption, the same oppression, and the same problems, albeit with differences in form and degree from one region to another.
This harsh experience reconfirmed in Syrians’ minds that what is wanted is beyond a mere change or power sharing; what is wanted is a radical change of the entire system and all the elites on both sides.
In this sense, the essence of the political solution through UNSC Resolution 2254 was and still is represented by empowering the Syrian people to practice their right in determining their own destiny. In other words, the elites in each of the opposition and regime, while their role in the political solution is to sit at the direct negotiating table to reach consensus that permits reuniting the country and establish the basis for all foreign forces to leave it, these are the same elites that have the task of delivering the country to its rightful owners, who will decide who of these elites can stay and those whose role has ended.
After Syrians’ bitter experience (whether those considered loyalists or opposition) with the various authorities, there is no doubt that the elites and authorities have deep knowledge of Syrians’ true opinions of them and Syrians’ real position therefrom. This explains the elites’ lack of desire to provide real platforms for Syrians to express their opinions and turn them into realities.
In any case, despite extremists from both sides using undermining of the other (undermining here means accusing of treachery or disloyalty) under the pretext of defending the country, nevertheless reality indicates something completely different. The country’s unity and continuation are threatened, in addition to the threat of displacing its people, impoverishing them, destroying its manufacturing and agriculture, the spread epidemics therein, deterioration of education, healthy, transportation, and service, etc. This goes for all regions and under all existing “authorities”.
The patriotic position today does not revolve around this or that elite keeping influence or power, but around the country and stopping its collapse. The attempts to monopolize patriotism but this or that side is more of a black comedy in light of the sides “monopolizing patriotism” continuing to do what is sure to destroy whatever remains of the country. This includes continuing to be dependent on the dollar, continuing to overtly or secretly look for a deal with the West in particular, and deepening Syrians’ wounds and crises with the various economic and political steps.
When the country itself is under threat, the patriotism standard is not being loyal to this or that authority, and is not by working to keep power, but in working to stop the collapse and displacement. All this passes exclusively through opening the door to a real political solution that involves those with the real patriotic interest, whom most of the elites do not seek to represent as much as they seek to put on an act for them and use them to achieve their own interests.