Three questions to Farouk Mardam Beik, president of the association “Souria Houria” (Syria Freedom), on the fifth anniversary of its establishment
The Creative Memory – Exclusive Interview.
After five years of clearly defined goals and orientation, as well as extensive efforts and broad relationships on all levels, what influence do you now have in France on the political level and on the public opinion?
First, we have to admit that even if our efforts had some success in the cultural, humanitarian and media fields, we did not achieve what we had hoped for with the wide public opinion, despite the relatively broad network of relationships that we had sown, and I will explain the objective reasons for why this happened later.
Maybe we succeeded in accomplishing two things that are very important in a time when frustration and futile tension were on the rise:
1- Permanence and continuity, which we achieved by hanging on to the initial premises of the revolution, regularly organizing varied activities, keeping up with the ongoing developments, being open to all democratic associations and initiatives, and the political and financial independence from any governmental or non-governmental party.
2- The credibility of our association, which was slowly formed in the civil society and its institutions, as well as in the cultural and journalism circles.
In your opinion, why is there an absence of popular solidarity with our cause?
We usually assume that the European people would spontaneously show solidarity with all the just causes in the world. This assumption is wrong, especially in the current circumstances, because the local political and economical concerns overshadow everything else.
Today more than ever, the European people do not care about what is happening in the world unless it affects their immediate interests, negatively or positively. And so, the attention they give to what has happened and what is still happening in Syria has been limited for two years now to the refugee crisis on the one hand, and the terrorism of Daash and other organizations on the other hand, even if their motives were not linked to the situation in Syria.
At the beginning of the revolution, in the context of the “Arab Spring”, the French public opinion was sympathetic to some extent with the Arab people, including the Syrian people. That sympathy soon receded due to the subsequent developments in Libya, Egypt and Yemen. It is certain that the emergence of jihadist organizations after the militarization of the revolution in Syria deprived the country of human compassion. In addition, when the opposition’s spokesmen showed shallowness, division and dependency, except in very rare cases, it was not possible for the public to truly understand the reality of the situation, and they saw the revolution as nothing but a conflict between the two regional axes that resulted in a sectarian civil war.
For five years now, Syria has witnessed a great abundance of collective and individual initiatives that might be closer to dispersion than diversity and specialization. With the absence of a unifying umbrella, do you consider this a point of weakness or power?
These collective and individual initiatives, with their vigor and their competence in various fields, reflect in their division the reality of the Syrian national democratic opposition. By that, I am referring to the absence of a political actor that is capable of uniting them, or at least helping them to coordinate, in order to invest them in the conflict with al-Assad’s regime, on the field and in international forums.
There is no doubt that these two phenomena, the political vacuum and the community’s rupture, are first and foremost the effects of a tyranny that has been going on for more than five decades.