Nadim Shehadi writes: The appointment of Abdulbaset Sieda to head the Syrian National Council (SNC) opposition comes at a time when the SNC is undergoing what was euphemistically called a restructuring and opening up to other opposition groups.
This is an immense challenge and is part of a major re-evaluation and overhaul of the experience of the opposition in the past year, during which so much change has occurred on all fronts. This comes also after Burhan Ghalioun, the previous president of the SNC, declared that they had failed the Syrian people.
The appointment comes after two important meetings, one of the SNC in Rome which decided on the restructuring and another in Bulgaria where the SNC met with several other opposition groups and managed to come up with a joint statement.
The Bulgaria meeting also discussed a roadmap to create a common vision and a plan for co-ordination between what is now recognised as a diverse collection of opposition groups with the aim of developing a mechanism to work together under the umbrella of the SNC while maintaining their autonomy. Another aim is to prepare for the transition after the fall of the regime.
What makes these plans more difficult is that the opposition is at the same time fighting a battle of ideas against the regime’s dominant Ba’athist ideology. These ideas are deeply ingrained in the minds of Syrians, including those of the opposition, and benefit from a headstart of 48 years where Ba’ath party ideology was hammered in through the media, the educational system and other government institutions. [Continue reading...]