At the conclusion of his new initiative, which he preferred to call a "gift" to Syrian people for Eid al-Fitr, the former president of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahamd Moaz al-Khatib, pleaded the Syrian regime to "send someone who has authority" to negotiate. If this someone came, he said, he would find "elite Syrian leaders willing to negotiate with the regime for a free and dignified country", an elite, he said, that "doesn’t seek position" and wants "to discuss this issue, before the regional and international projects kill us".
Before this conclusion, the "gift" seemed like a genuine initiative, though the sheikh didn’t call it so. It was based on five points to be carried out by an an equal equation of regime figures and the people, after Khatib excluded the "internationally connected opposition" from the equation, to agree on:
1. The prevention of the division of Syria
2. The independence of Syrian political decision-makers away from the destructive projects of Iran, the Gulf countries and Al-Qaeda
3. The stepping down of regime and the opposition in favor of the Syrian figures who can carry out the mission to lead the country
4. Stopping the killing, blood and destruction
5. A politically negotiated solution that forces both the regime and the opposition to apply transitional justice
Firstly, it is noted that Khatib's description of the "connected opposition" is not only wrong and dishonest, but it is also too late for a man who headed that opposition just a few months ago. He lived that "connection", hour after hour, one conference after another and one capital after another, but never mentioned that "connection" explicitly and critically as he does now.
This moral and behavioral detail disarms Khatib's speech of even minimum credibility, and impacts his patriotism and reconciliation claims, exposing his imaginary and chivalrous vision. Khatib's credibility is based on a religious reference that forbids cheating and misleading.
Secondly, it is surprising that Khatib travelled between those Gulf countries which he classifies today as part of a second destructive regional project. Khatib doesn’t only mention their agendas in Syria, but he equates them to the Iranian project which is based on "imperial dreams", although Khatib doesn’t clarify whether this project is of a Persian or Shiite nature, or maybe both, to expand in the region and control its people.
Here, again, Khatib doesn’t seem that bold a dissident to be given the front line in the summits, conferences and meetings held by those Gulf countries to domesticate him and his colleagues in the leadership. Khatib might have buried this part of his personal memory, thinking that readers who have followed his steps have also emptied their memories.
Thirdly, it is pathetic that the sheikh continues the production and re-production of initiatives that no one listens to. It seems as if Khatib finds joy in his illusionary and delusionary dialogues, as if he has mastered the art of screaming with no hope in an endless echo.
On 23 May, 2013, the sheikh suggested an initiative (that could not be called a "gift" at all), based on a verse from Holy Quran; "And whoever saves one soul, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely". He started his speech then, lamenting that "To prevent the collapse of Syrian land, people and economy, to avoid its deconstruction humanly and socially, we provide this initiative which is our duty towards our country and people as a practical response to a political solution that guarantees a peaceful transition of power".
The dreams of that moment led Khatib to give the president twenty days to announce "his acceptance for the peaceful transition of power and handover of authority to Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, or to the current prime minister Wael al-Halqi. Other terms included the dissolving of the parliament, the president must handover all his powers within one month after accepting the initiative, reconstruction of the military and security forces within 100 days, the release of political prisoners, the current president must leave the country accompanied by 500 persons he chooses (but no legal guarantees would be given to them), and finally, that all fighting parties must commit to a ceasefire agreement.
The sheikh could be right if the other side was alive, because the list of Assad's responses varied between shelling of the Ghouta with chemical weapons, holding the tragic Geneva Conference, and then the comedy of presidential elections, throwing Farouk al-Sharaa into the trash bin, killing more thousands of Syrians, dropping hundreds of explosive barrels and engaging in more and more sectarian recruitment. Meanwhile, none of the regime officials cared to comment on Khatib's initiative, not even to laugh at it.
Fourthly, it is disastrous that the sheikh still doesn’t know the nature of the regime after all that has happened and is still happening, and doesn’t know the hierarchical structure of power in Syria, with Assad himself, with his increasingly violent character since he inherited power in the summer of 2000, at the top.
Who exactly is that "someone who has power" who will respond to Khatib's "gift"? Is it Maher Assad, the brother of Bashar and the actual leader of the Fourth Brigade and the second person in charge of the security solution after his elder brother? Or maybe the sheikh is thinking of brigadier Thu al-Himma Shalish, Assad's cousin and the chief of his personal guards, the man with military and financial powers far beyond his position? Or maybe it is Ali Mamlouk, the engineer of total fascism in the country? Perhaps he means Jamil Hassan, the director of Air Force Intelligence, with his famously bloody dispositiion?
Is it possible that he means the Vice President Najah al-Attar, or any other useless member in the National Leadership of Baath Party? Or maybe it is Rami Makhlouf, regime's banker and corruption leader? Maybe it is one of the businessmen and merchants who serve the regime, like Akhras, Ghrewati, Shehabi or Hamsho? On the other hand, who are the members of that Syrian political elite who will sit to negotiate with the regime? Are they human being with faces and names? Or are they ghosts lost in a nebula?
It is humiliating that Khatib still addresses Assad, the murderer of children and the head of a regime that didn’t stop committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since March 2011, with this pleading and tragic tone.
Is this Assad the one the sheikh addresses when he asks: "Do you see the hands and legs of young children dismembered?", "Why the siege?", "Why do you shell civilians day and night?", "Why do you prevent people from getting passports?"
Where exactly does the sheikh live? Is it on this same earth which has never witnessed any barbarism similar to that which Assad and his men commit? Or does he live on a planet of his illusions, repeating his silent initiatives and screaming his tongue-tied cries?
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer