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Coalition Under Fire

The Coalition needs to be repaired and institutionalized, but it requires work
Coalition Under Fire

Since the Syrian National Coalition was established about two years ago, criticism of it has continued from Syrian organizations, blocs, political figures, activists and civilians. Meanwhile, criticism from the regime, its shabbiha militias and Assad supporters has reached new levels of mistrust and accusations of treason.


Criticism from the regime supporters does not concern us, because it stems from the hostility towards the Syrian people and their revolution and the opposition. But criticism from the others does, and we are eager to keen to discuss  and reviewing it, because it is based on the fears for the people, the revolution and the opposition, even if it sometimes sounds similar to the criticism of the regime and its Shabbihas.


Syrian's criticism of the Coalition is concentrated firstly on its political structure, especially because of the presence of unknown powers, figures, or problematic political personnel. This is mostly a result of regime policies that have followed on from the reign of the Assad family from father to son, a policy that scattered the political forces and figures inside Syria and abroad, and marginalized the political life in Syria and the region, making the image of politics and politicians ambiguous among Syrians.


The problem became more complicated because the revolution did not pause in front of that image to ponder and distinguish the positive from the negative in order to take a stand to support the positive, both in the Coalition or other Syrian opposition formations.


The second point is related to the capacity of the Coalition, which are limited in all areas, not only when compared to the capacity of the regime, but as imposed by the Syrian humanitarian disaster and the increasing needs of millions of Syrians in poverty, homelessness, refuge, disease, forced disappearance and death. These needs cannot be covered even by rich and powerful countries, especially given the number of Syrian refugees is growing in an uncooperative regional and international environment.


The third point is about the regional and international effect on the Coalition and the relationships between the Coalition and the surrounding regional countries, and important and powerful nations, especially with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Western Europe and the United States.  This is normal; the circumstances of the Syrian crisis have made ​​the revolution and the opposition an arena for regional and international intervention, especially after the regime brought its allies including Russia, Iran and the Lebanese and Iraqi militias, and after those forces dedicated all their capabilities to supporting the regime.


The criticism of the Coalition in light of all this can be seen objectively and can have a positive effect. This criticism will help the Coalition in its progress and development in a way that is suitable for its tasks and objectives and according to reality, not just dreams and wishes. But if the criticism does not take into account this data, it is not a positive criticism, and may have implications far from the higher interest of the Syrian people and their revolution.


Some people used to say that the Coalition needs a program and a political and executive plan. This is correct, because it is unacceptable for the Coalition to work without plans and programs, to leave its policy to swing by the winds or to be doomed to metaphors, as has happened once in the Coalition's history.


Claiming that the Coalition needs to be repaired and institutionalized – and this demand is right – is something that requires work, because the Coalition needs institutions and political, administrative and technical structures. These institutions and structures are beyond the nature of the opposition forces of the Coalition, and beyond the institutions and structures set up in the previous periods. There is a need for new capacities and qualities in virtue of the new role of the Coalition, in terms of the structures of the government, the general staff and the Assistance Coordination Unit.


As for the condemnatiions of the Coalition as being incapable of providing military support to armed forces and relief to more than ten million Syrians at home and abroad, this is unrealistic. The critics know that the capacities of the Coalition do not allow it to be more effective, as it gets limited assistance from supporting countries. Maybe those critics do not know anything about the reality of the Coalition and its finances, and have illusions regarding the support received.


As for the speech about the deficit of the Coalition in terms of confronting the regime forces and its allies on the ground, and towards the expansion of extremist militias such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, it is a kind of fantasy, especially given the Coalition is a political alliance and not a military organization, and its relations with the military formations are limited and governed by very complex terms and conditions, in addition to the weakness of its financial capabilities.


The time has come, not only for the opposition forces and figures, but primarily to those who are within the Syrian National Coalition, to use their minds and their consciences and the interests of the revolution and the Syrian people when they criticize the Coalition and its performance. They should come forward to work together to revive the Coalition and push it to towards the goals of the revolution and the people rather than relying on imaginary desires or to take advantage of the political interests, and the misplaced use of certain facts in order to accuse a party or use it for political purposes with limited benefits, rather than to be in the interest of the revolution and the Syrian people. Only then, criticizing the Coalition will be valuable and useful.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer 


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