For the past two months people have been passing over the Syrian National Council, and the founders and independents, members, associate and membership missionaries are now flocking to Doha to take this body out of quarantine, which Dr. Eric Chevalier failed to reanimate alone. Neither the photo of his leadership with President Hollande, nor the financial pumping and diplomatic support was sufficient. The American pragmatic mind was more subtle when it took some ideas put forward by Mr. Riad Seif and reformed them along the lines of a radical exit to the story of the Syrian National Council. Mrs. Hillary Clinton announced the coming end of the validity of the goods, and it became necessary to perform a forced caesarean birth of a newborn, who receives the mandate of the covenant from his brother. This older brother did not invest his allegiance in the Arab Gulf, Turkey and the West, and nor did he win people round, or develop a political speech that was able to keep up with the devastating violence experienced by the country.
Perhaps the first weak point of the old SNC was its blind support for the one idea of armament and procurement of arms to military groups, which failed to bring unity or to create a mature political horizon and presence. One might rejoice well in the speech of Sheikh Ahmed Maaz al-Khatib, who spoke in politics and religion and did not speak in violence and weapons. However, soon afterwards we received some scary data and citations, which really confirmed the clear substance of the “Syrian National Damage” (as it is pronounced by Mr. Hamad bin Jassim – he mispronounced the Arabic word for‘coalition’). Mr. al-Khatib became aware of what he forgot to mention in his inaugural speech, saying he wants “European recognition and financial support for the coalition, and following the political recognition, when the coalition is recognized as acting like a Government then it will be given weapons, and this will solve the problem”.
Mr. al-Khatib reveals in a second letter published two days ago his opposition to the National Charter adopted in Cairo, and he made this clear by saying, “The Cairo document was not supported in any case and I was with a lot of brother-naysayers. I have issued a statement that I would be the first to withdraw when there is an alternative to the doctrine of the nation based on Mohammed’s rules, to the end of the world”. Of course, separating holiness from everyday political responsability, human beings are responsible for their actions and there is emphasis on equal citizenship among all Syrians. Those two things are rejected by some Islamists.
There is an ambiguous relationship between the Council and the Coalition and vagueness in the relationship between the Arab League and what accumulated in the lead-up to the new project. The Council attained the lion’s share of seats (38 sons of the Council, five of whom resigned) at the expense of the rest of the present and absent opposition factions, and in the absence of the Lakhdar al-Brahimi mission and the Geneva meeting. Most of the Arab countries become silent about this at the Cairo meeting, and tried to readjust the picture, but as one of the attendees said,“They said what they did and neglected us, and we said what we did without binding anyone.”
France gives another example of the cacophony surrounding Syria. The Defence Minister excluded direct recognition, and the delegation from their Foreign Department only offered support without recognition in Cairo; President Hollande recognised it in a sarcastic form saying: “I announce today France’s recognition of the Syrian National Council as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and it will be the future government of democratic Syria, so as to put an end to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.” There is no typographical error. Hollande recognized the Council after it was removed from power, which is evidence of his accurate and deep following of the Syrian case.
Ambiguities in the Doha text are many, and the refusal to enter into dialogue and negotiation did not need a political body; this is a task of fighters. The problem is that there are those who want to dictate to the Syrians what they should do, and to force them to do and not do want they want them to, and to turn them into flunkeys, as Mr. Issam al-Attar said.
Before the conference, al-Khatib said that negotiation is a legal and political obligation; after the Qatari’s generosity, the Imam discovered that he made a mistake in his fatwa. As a consequence he will get, from God, one reward, but Robert Ford and Eric Chevalier will get two.