In any nation’s life there are times that define what that nation is and what it’s going to be; the past three months have been such a time for Syria and today was its defining moment.
Like most people, I have kept my opinion of what’s been going on in Syria between me and the circle of family and friends around me. However, today I have to practice what I preach, today silence is not a virtue.
So here are my 2 pence worth of talk, please read to the end then swear, shout, or block me from your friend list. But please read to the end before you do so and try to read with an open mind and remember that if we disagree over everything, we all agree on one thing, we all love Syria.
Over the past three months, 3 different Syria(s) emerged, the Syria which you see in Al Jazeera, the Syria you see on Addunia TV and the real country that I visited earlier this month and spent most of my short time listening to people and what they had to say, the everyday occurrences and what they’ve been through in the past few months.
So which of the 3 Syria(s) is the real one? Who is demanding what and who is shooting at whom? Unfortunately, truth has been one of the early casualties of these events, followed by reason and the ability to talk across differences and because of that the future Syria was a Syria that does not exist in any form.
It will take years after the dust settles for the whole truth to be known, it may take longer but what we (you, I and every Syrian) should think of is that we are here now so what’s next?
The ”what next” is the reason for me writing this note, the what next is not what you and I want today but what kind of Syria do we want to leave for our children and their children.
Here are the facts:
- There are people who started demonstrating in Syria wanting reforms
- There are people who pushed the level of requests to wanting a change of regime
- There have been attempts to restrain these people, heavy handed at times alongside political promises of reforms.
- There are various movements abroad which seem to use the populous movement in Syria to further their causes (Old and new)
- There has been an unprecedented abuse of media outlets to propagate one view or another in any means possible.
- The Syrian economy is under immense pressure and whatever the outcome of the recent events, it will take several years to reverse the damage done to it.
So what options are available? Here is the part where you need to keep an open mind and not think with emotions:
- A regime change: this will happen in 2 cases only, foreign intervention Libya style which a scenario is rejected by All Syrians I’ve talked to from both side of the fence. Or, and this is the option that most are betting on, the army to change sides or to split. The latter option means a prolonged civil war of which the possibility of Syria exiting from as a Syria that we can recognise is almost non-existent.
- The protest continue on, the is no real momentum that would allow for a push to end the stalemate in one direction or the other (the regime wont chose the Ghaddafi choice and the opposition is not strong enough to force a change). The real loser of this scenario is the economy and the Syria people. The strain on the economy from the last 3 months is already leaving a deep mark on development, investment (foreign and local) and employment rates to say the least. The 2011 tourist season is already written off and this has wide reaching effect on the wellbeing of a significant number of people.
- The regime and the opposition try to meet in the middle and draft an exit strategy that will save Syria and put it again on the path of growth and development.
You don’t have to think much to know which my option is, I, like a great deal of people who have remained silence since the beginning, will not remain silent when options 1 and 2 are on the table. There is a significant mass of people who started this journey supporting both sides but have gradually gravitated towards a solution that maintains the integrity and unity of their country. That mass will look at the options available and will go for the third. Not because they’re benefiting from the current regime, not because they’re being paid or pushed by it nor because they are too coward to oppose it. Today, courage is to stand up to both side and chose the middle path to follow.
Yesterday the President has laid out a program for reform and a time table to follow it. Today, the ball is firmly in the court of the opposition and now the opposition will have to answer back.
I was amazed to see that the people I know and respect have decided to close their ears and not hear anything of what was said in that speech. The news channels were quick to relay the opposing protests and failed to relay the support demonstrations. The news channels were filled with analysts dismissing the speech and what was put on offer as too little too late. Even before the speech finished, you could find reports disregarding its contents and almost encouraging people to dismiss it without proper thought.
Well this speech is the one that you cannot allow anyone else to interpret for you. You’re the Syrian you cannot be lazy and not do the thinking yourself, not when what you think and believe, or chose to believe, means what Syria will become over the next stage of its life.
Now the opposition is called upon to talk, not using the street, not hiding behind the people protesting but coming out from behind the facebook and the computer screen and put their thoughts and more importantly themselves forward to start this dialogue.
Claiming that the regime doesn’t want to dialogue is not enough when these people haven’t event tried to put their point across. With all the media attention that is being focused on Syria this opposition can, if they wish, stand up without fear to talk with purpose. The people who have been encouraged to go out to the street have been brave enough to reach Syria to a point where a real and open dialogue can start. It is now the turn of the opposition that has been egging them to the street to put itself forward to do its part for this country.
Now, bravery is in listening not in yelling, it’s in moving the dialogue from the street into the discussion table. To accept the other, to accept that there are genuine people on both sides who will both be living in Syria and be part of it when this whole thing is over. Brave is to admit that there were people killed on both sides by both sides and their lives should pay for a better Syria for all not for some.
Today the stage is set for a new day to dawn on Syria, a dawn of true freedom and democracy. A democracy that has to be taught and extended to include country and home capturing the different shades of the Syrian society.
Our fathers and forefathers have gone through turmoil and instability before us. They have built a country that most of us are proud to belong to, far more than what other nationals feel towards their respective countries.
Our fathers hoped that they have seen the worst of times so that we can see the best of times; my hope is that we have learned from their mistakes and we will not push to pay a heavier price to buy a weaker more fractured country.
Today, Syria is as the tipping point when the masses in the middle should be the masse tipping the scale in the direction they want for Syria. These masses should be all of us, the people at home, abroad, on the street and in the barrack.
A friend who lives on one of the ”hot spots” around Damascus told me that her family have decided to go out to the streets last night to declare their support to the reform program put forward yesterday. They are part of the silent masses that are starting to mobilise, the President has given them a strong case, it’s now up for the opposition to put its case forward for the people to decide. A case that can be presented in 1h 15m with the most frequent words used in It being “People” and “Syria”
God bless and protect Syria
God keep my country safe