Only Syrians can stop the annihilation of Douma

Only Syrians can stop the annihilation of Douma
Comment: Syrians must unite in order to overcome the regime's slaughter in Eastern Ghouta. No one else will come to their aid, says Burhan Ghalioun.
5 min read
17 Feb, 2015
Syrians in Douma, north east of the capital Damascus, are under fierce bombardment [AFP]
Syria's Eastern Ghouta governorate, most notably the city of Douma, has been under a brutal siege for two years and has forced many Syrians into starvation, dispossession and exile.

A campaign of systematic extermination has been evident in Douma for many days, the perpetrators sparing no means of violence and brutality, amid total silence from the rest of the world. Despite many resolutions issued by the UN Security Council to stop the siege and end the indiscriminate killing of civilians, as well as appeals from Syrians - including children - very little has been done to aid intervention.
     It is not a civil war, but a war of extermination waged by an oppressive junta against unarmed people.

The major powers, which incessantly call for respect for international legitimacy and humanitarian laws, continue to break their promises and commitments regarding the protection of civilians. They are keen not to be "involved", ie show solidarity with Syrians, in what is referred to as the Syrian civil war. But it is not a civil war, it is a war of extermination waged by an oppressive junta against unarmed people.

No one doubts that the prime parties responsible for the war crimes in Syria is the Assad regime and its allies in Tehran and Moscow. Nor does one doubt that a large share of responsibility for the current outcome rests with the international community, which turned its back on the principles of the UN charter on human rights and refused to make any significant sacrifices to protect the people of Syria.

Yet simply assigning responsibility will not help Syrians overcome their ordeal. We must also remember the huge responsibility that lies with the forces of the revolution and the opposition, who chose to pursue policies that made conflict and division their primary focus. This distorted their image and prevented sympathy from the outside.

The world's failure to do right by Syria does not lessen our own responsibility for failing to create the necessary conditions to mobilise and unite our people.

Instead we fought among ourselves over positions and isolated ourselves in our neighbourhoods and cities. As a result, we lack a unified leadership and a comprehensive national plan to rally all forces, both military and political, at home and abroad, in order to defeat the regime and liberate the land.

Our divisions also gave countries an easy pretext to wash their hands of our cause.

What we need today is more than just messages and appeals to the international community, the UN and humanitarian organisations, whose lack of credibility is now established. All the letters sent in recent months to the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, were ignored. Is it because he is ashamed, helpless or inconsiderate?

The world will not move unless we, ourselves, start moving for the sake of our cause and force others to do the same to stop this aggressive war. The war would not have carried on were it not for the intervention of foreign states, Russia and Iran, and were it not for the silence of the international community. We will not be rescued by the outside world unless we, Syrians, are able to rescue one another.
     We will not be rescued by the outside world unless we, Syrians, are able to rescue one another.

This requires responding to Assad's positions with the same force he is using against besieged cities and neighbourhoods. It also requires notifying the UN and major powers that they bear responsibility for what may happen following this response, as it is a result of their silence towards the tyrannical regime, their failure to assume their responsibilities and the fact that they have let this criminal regime violate international laws and norms.

We must take action on the ground and attempt to unite battalions so that they are merged under a central military structure. The latter will thus operate as part of a national strategy.

A broad national action front on the political level is also required which will include all those seeking to change the regime. It will adopt a pluralistic, democratic national system that does not discriminate on the basis of political orientation, ideologies, social class, ethnicity and sect.

And lastly, a tactical alliance is needed at home and abroad to isolate the regime and extremist groups such as the Islamic State group.

Condemning and complaining about the lack of international support in defending the rights and future of Syrians is pointless. We will not be able to confront this war and aggression unless we, as Syrians, led by forces of the revolution and opposition, rise as one.

After four years of fighting, it is time to realise that there is no other alternative apart from relying on ourselves. No one is going to bear the burden in our stead, no matter how big that burden is.

We need to be positive that those who have been resisting the regime's violence, terror and murder for more than half a century, and who have shown heroism, courage and sacrifice, will be the ones to triumph.

We must also remain optimistic in believing that the brutality does not weaken the Syrians, but rather add to their determination in defending and liberating their homeland.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.