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On neutralizing Syria’s ‘Arabism’

A religious country like Iran will not accept democracy and secularism in a country where it has gotten its settlement claws deep

Ghassan Imam

Published: Updated:

The constitution is the society’s mirror, the nation’s identity and the title of sovereignty. It is not a gift that’s given by a nation to another and is not imposed by one country over another unless the state receiving this “gift” has lost sovereignty and the state offering it is an invader, aggressor and occupier.

In the current Syrian case, Russia announced it submitted an amended Syrian draft constitution to suspicious Syrian opposition groups so they “can study it and voice their opinion about it.” These opposition groups include Kurdish and Syrian members who are affiliated with countries in the region or who are close to Bashar al-Assad’s regime and they have not left the areas and zones which the Assad regime controls.

Russia has not officially announced the content of the amendments. However, there are contradicting rumors and information about the content and Russia has not denied these reports.

It is said the amendments include a proposal to implement “democracy and secularism” and another proposal to neutralize Arabism from the current Syrian constitution which was drafted under the supervision of the regime many years ago. It is based on the current constitution that Bashar al-Assad himself was elected president for the third time after he spent 14 years in power across two seven-year presidential terms.

Official and non-official Iranian sources were quick to reject and criticize democracy and secularism. This is self-evident. A religious country like Iran will not accept democracy and secularism in a country where it has gotten its settlement claws deep into its soft skin and wounded body.

The Iranian government has so far not declared its opinion regarding the Russian proposal to cancel Syria’s Arabism. However, its silence implies it supports cancelling the identity of a country it occupies, and it wants to do this in Shiite sectarian settlements to allow itself to intervene in them, tear their national identity and separate them from their Arab brothers.

It’s also self-evident that Russia will propose neutralizing national identity when it knows that some Syrian opposition groups are willing to give up this identity. The political Syrian opposition, which was formed at the beginning of the revolution, abstained from announcing their national affiliations either because they wanted to humor European parties which embraced them and even bribed them or to anger the Syrian regime which still hides behind commitment to fake and suppressive Arabism.

Despite the regime’s attempt to hide behind this Arabism, its alliance with regional countries that oppose Arabism and that oppose the Sunni Arab majority is no secret. A member of the political opposition coalition proposed a draft constitution without Arabism as he naively though it may work as a democratic constitution if it cancelled the national identity of the majority of Syrians.

The roof of the skyscraper which President Trump owns is not enough for Syrian refugees. So where else will he house these miserable people?

Ghassan Imam

Tutelage of opposition groups

Armed religious opposition groups which reject the tutelage of political opposition groups considered their Islam to be abandoning their Arabism. Instead of forming one free and unified Syrian army, they acted upon opportunism and became linked with fanatical organizations, like ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and Fateh al-Sham.

These organizations were bitterly defeated when fighting Shiite militias which Iran brought into Syria. They then accepted the Russian advice to separate from the aforementioned fanatical groups so they were defeated again when they fought ISIS and al-Nusra in Aleppo’s northern countryside and Edleb.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party militia realized that Syrian political opposition groups and armed groups were abandoning their national identity so they exploited that and dared announce their separatist identity after the Assad regime had granted them Syrian nationalities.

It established an autonomy near the Turkish-Syrian border and this zone extends from east of the Euphrates River to the borders of Iraq’s Kurdistan. It humors the US and Russia by announcing its willingness to participate in the liberation of ar-Raqqah and Deir az-Zour from ISIS.

The Russian circus in Astana ended with a Russian-Iranian dispute regarding the final statement and they disagreed over the necessity of withdrawing foreign militias from Syria. What’s interesting here is that Iran accepts the withdrawal of Chechen and Tunisian militias and ISIS mercenaries who came from the Balkans and western Europe but it rejects withdrawing Shiite militias, including Hezbollah’s mercenaries.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced postponing the Geneva talks on Syria without asking the permission of the UN’s new secretary general. Lavrov’s aim is to hold the entire cards in his hand to be ready to confront and thwart the project of Russia’s new “friend” Donald Trump who wants to establish safe zones for Syrians displaced inside and outside Syria so there’s no influx of refugees again towards Europe and America.

The Syrian refugees

The roof of the skyscraper which President Trump owns is not enough for Syrian refugees. So where else will he house these miserable people? Most probably, in the area which Turkey occupies and which extends from the border area of Jarabulus, west of the Euphrates River, to Azaz and Afreen and which is 50 kilometers inside Syria. This area neighbors the Kurdish autonomous zone, east of the Euphrates River.

Amid all these intertwined details, there is no coordination among Arabs’ high-ranking figures’ activity. After his visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced he will visit US President Donald Trump. This visit will be before the visit of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. It was said that Sisi will be the first Arab president to meet with the new American president.

Perhaps King Abdullah is in a hurry to be reassured about American financial aid to his country and needs to make sure this aid will not be canceled in a tweet by Trump as perhaps the latter may want to anger his predecessor, Barack Obama, who said there is a plan to increase it from $600 million to $1 billion.

But what will King Abdullah II say to Trump about the possibility of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem as recognition of the latter as a capital of Israel? What will he tell him about the Brotherhood in Jordan after Trump announced the possibility of blacklisting the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization because he suspects it is linked to violent acts against Sisi’s regime?

And finally what about the Kuwaiti initiative between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Will the famous diplomacy of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which once nominated Kuwait to become a pivotal state, resume its activity due to its feeling of its national duty now that the Arabs’ situation reminds of the old poet’s verse: “He who inattentively grazes sheep in the land of lions, will wake up to the lions grazing the sheep.”

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Ghassan Imam is a Syrian journalist and writer.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.