News from the Arab Press

Who Is the Real Sovereign in Syria?

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

October 9, 2017


Al-Mada, Iraq, October 6

The answer to the question I posed in the title is a tragic one. One might say that it is Russia that governs Syria, while others will point fingers at Iran. A third person might remind us of the invisible hand of Israel and the United States, which established a military presence along Syria’s borders. Still others will highlight the multiple governments that have sent forces to Syria under the pretext of “fighting terrorism” but have remained in the war-torn country for their own political interests. We also cannot overlook the strong presence of sectarian and ethnic militias that came to the country from across the world—especially from Lebanon and Iraq—flooding it with weapons. The Syrian rebels will obviously claim that they are the ones running Syria, while the Islamic State asserts its own dominance over the region. The Kurds, too, will probably lay claim to parts of Syria. In other words, the answer is complicated. The list goes on and on, with multiple players vying for authority. How sad that we ended up like this. When the Syrian uprising erupted more than six years ago, protestors on the streets did not call for the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. I was there with them. People marched in the streets of Damascus and demanded freedom and dignity. They chanted “the Syrian people are one” as an expression of national unity and solidarity. But Assad was too stubborn and conceited to comply with their calls. He refused to give the people what they wanted. Instead, he ordered his forces to shoot and kill those exercising their basic political rights. I am sure that had he sat down and talked with representatives of the opposition, he would have reclaimed his legitimacy and stayed in power. But he didn’t. Look where we are today: Syria has been completely destroyed. There is no real sovereign power in the land. And the revolution? While it may have been defeated militarily, it still lives on. The millions of Syrians who fled their country and found refuge abroad are a living testament to Bashar al-Assad’s cruelty. Their country might be reduced to ashes, but they will remain. They—and only they—are the true Syrian people. And one day, God willing, they will be given a chance to return to their homes and govern their own country. – Riyadh Naasan Ara

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