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Penetrated Opposition and Failure of Consensus in Syria: Interview with Haytham Manna`(Part 4 of 4)

[Haytham Manna`. Image by Bassam Haddad] [Haytham Manna`. Image by Bassam Haddad]

On April 27th, around the Jadaliyya Co-Sponsored Conference at Lund University ("Contesting Narratives, Location Power"), I sat down for an extensive interview with Haytham Manna`, one of the icons of the independent Syrian opposition and a leading founder of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change (in Syria). The interview was long and candid, and addressed several topics, including the current impasse in Syria, the stages and transformation of the uprising, the questions of international intervention and of resistance, the Syrian National Council and its relations with other opposition groups and the Arab Gulf States and beyond, and the relationship between Syria and Hizballah.

Below you will find the fourth and final part of the interview (in two segments). This part addresses the relationship between the Syrian National Council and the National Coordiinating Body and other opposition groups. It also addresses the issue of the opposition's independence, and the question of resistance. The first part can be found here, the second part here, and the third part here.


The following are themes and paraphrased statements from the interview. These are not necessarily direct quotations, so please do not use them as such. We are planning to present quoted highlights from the interview in the near future. 


The Deliberated Istanbul Project 
(Themes and Paraphrased Segments from the Interview--Not for attribution)

There were parties to the conflict who wanted to create an opposition "project" with small players.

The make-up, preparation, and imposition of leadership did not proceed according to the real representative democratic formula. But nearly all external actors supported this formula. This was the end of the possibility of unity among the opposition. 

The discourse and machinations of the SNC increasingly resembled those of the regime. If you wanted to remain independent, you could not join the SNC.

The leader of the Free Syrian Army was beholden to the declarations and positions of Turkish intelligence.

I don't have the right to accuse the SNC of being traitors or agents, but i do have the right to say that their political decision was compromised by their political funding and alliances. Their discourse tried to appease the West and Israel . . . every other word they attack HIzballah, and Iran, to demonstrate good will to the West.

My mission is neither to attack nor to glorify Hizballah. My mission is to glorify democracy and win the democratic battle that will change both Syria and Lebanon.


Failed Consensus and Aftermath
(Themes and Paraphrased Segments from the Interview--Not for attribution)

At the National Coordinating Body we have one voice, one discourse, one program. I represented this voice in our initial agreement with the SNC. Unfortunately, that was not the case on the other side. They annulled the agreement within 12 hours as a result of internal and external pressure. Burhan Ghalyoun, met with Hamad bin Jasim shortly after the signing, and it was withdrawn henceforth.

The SNC's dependence on non-Syrian preferences.

The desire of Arab Gulf Countries ("duwal al-khaleej") to avoid a Syrian agreement [among the opposition].

Critique of international intervention including the "Humanitarian Corridor" proposal.

The transformation of the demands of the revolution from opposition to the regime to reaching out to outside actors.

Arab Gulf Countries supported this transformation through their own media. Revolution was beaten by counter-revolution.

Those who were ideologically coherent, including the Salafis, were able to lead them way in the emerging chaos.

The idea of international intervention was planted from without.

This is the most precious lesson we learned during the past thirteen months: violence must be marginalized in order for democracy to triumph over the regime.

Our liberation project is ahead of us, not behind us.

The Golan is still occupied. Therefore, we cannot put the issue of resistance on the shelf, and I cannot leave it off our program. And resistance cannot proceed without alliances.



Penetrated Opposition and Failure of Consensus in Syria: Interview with Haytham Manna` (Part 4A) from Jadaliyya on Vimeo.


Penetrated Opposition and Failure of Consensus in Syria: Interview with Haytham Manna` (Part 4B) from Jadaliyya on Vimeo.

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