Pages: 1 2
Meanwhile, genuinely secular forces seeking to topple the Assad dictatorship are not embraced. European governments have urged these forces to unite in order to compete with the Islamists. On September 17, the Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians formed in Paris. “We are all against totalitarianism in any form, and that includes Islamist rule,” spokeswoman Randa Qassis declared.
Abdulhamid told FrontPage that real secular alternatives to the Syrian National Council exist and its influence is being exaggerated. “Opposition councils are now two dime a dozen, they have failed to bring unity or to form a working group worthy of the name. They have contributed to increasing schisms within the ranks of protest leaders inside the country,” he said.
The Reform Party of Syria, a U.S.-based secular opposition group, insists that the U.S. must reach out to the secularists to prevent the Islamists from taking control of the opposition. RPS estimates that only 20 percent of the Syrian population is Islamist. Dr. Barry Rubin, an opponent of democracy promotion, agrees, putting his estimate even lower at 15 percent. He feels the Islamists are unlikely to replace Assad. This is partially due to demographics. In Egypt, 90 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. In Syria, it is 60 percent (the CIA Factbook puts it higher at 74 percent), with the rest being minorities who greatly fear Islamist rule. Many of the Syrian Sunnis are secular. For example, a Sunni cleric that supports the Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians insists that there must be separation of mosque and state.
The Assad regime has worked diligently to convince the West that it is the only alternative to Islamist rule in Syria. In 2006, the regime orchestrated riots in response to the Mohammed cartoons to make this point. It claims that the current uprising is an Islamist revolution led by terrorists. Protesters have rejected this accusation, chanting, “We want freedom, not Salafism.” Hanin Ghaddar of NOW Lebanon writes, “If that is accurate, why are they arresting liberal intellectuals and political activists, such as Suhair Atassi and Fayez Sarah? These two have nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalist groups.”
In this case, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is a ferocious enemy of the West with a huge amount of American blood on his hands. He is no friend, but neither are the Islamist elements who want to replace him with a Sharia state. If the U.S. fails to accurately distinguish ally from adversary, then the future of Syria belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Pages: 1 2