July 10, 2013
Jwan Yousef, 45, is a Syrian-Kurdish human-rights activist originally from Aleppo and now living in Switzerland. He is a former member of the Syrian National Coalition but resigned from it over disagreements about policy and direction. Yousef is now a radio host with Syria Free Radio. He explains to Nuha Shabaan why al-Jarba’s biggest task is to win the trust of Syrians still inside.
Q: What do you know about Ahmad al-Jarba? Does he have a chance of success?
Ahmad Awinan Al-Jarba, there is few information available about him, generally the al-Shammar [tribe] in Syria generally avoided political and government work. Al-Jarba has never worked with the resistance and what is being said about his arrest is that it was among arrests that included a number of the al-Shammar and that he was never particularly political, according to what people are saying.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing him?
Syrians have became prisoners of hope as they say, I hope too that al-Jarba succeeds in organizing the opposition’s house and restoring trust to the opposition structures, which have arrived to the point that belonging to those structures has become a source of shame.
Ahead of al-Jarba are a lot of challenges; the first one is winning the trust of the Syrian street by uniting and systemizing the military opposition, second by establishing relief work and getting the tone of the resistance out of a mode of vengeance and violence and into the field of freedom and dignity that have been started by the revolution, and most important of all is to create a civil, democratic Syria for all of its citizens.
Q: What does al-Jarba need to do in the next thirty days to prove that he is able to put together a government from a group of exiled Syrian leaders, and to show Syria’s friends that the opposition is able to control the liberated zones?
I think that 30 days is more than enough time for al-Jarba to prove his merits. He is now facing a very important test in Homs, which is being demolished on a daily basis and is on the verge of falling. The resistance has exhausted its ammunition and weapons, that’s what the rebels of Homs have announced, and an immediate initiative must explain why the revolution should continue. [Al-Jarba] must prove that he is indeed able to form a transitional government to lead the liberated areas from inside, and not through Skype.
On an international level, Jarba must provide guarantees that an ethnic cleansing [of Alawites] won’t happen after the fall of the regime.
Q: Can the resistance acquire the trust of the people?
The resistance has lost a lot. Geneva II is the death of the Syrian revolution, and al-Jarba has stated that he isn’t going to Geneva unless he has accomplished some victories or reinforced his military position. This means more destruction and more killing ahead. If Al-Jarba could restore the national decision back into the hands of Syrians, as Michel Kilo, the president of bloc has stated, he would have restore hope and success to the revolution, otherwise the revolution will be buried at Geneva II and al-Jarba will lose the trust of the people.
I’m sorry to say that what is wrong with the revolution is that the wellspring of regional powers is overriding the power of the Syrian people and their options. I hope that Al-Jarba realizes that.