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‘We see it as a lethal and crushing mistake for our revolution’

June 25, 2013 Mahmoud Ali al-Khalaf, Secretary General of the […]

25 June 2013

June 25, 2013

Mahmoud Ali al-Khalaf, Secretary General of the Moderate Party, responds to Syria Direct’s two-part series published last week looking at attitudes among Syria’s opposition toward Sunnis backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Al-Khalaf divides his time between London, Turkey and Syria.

Editor’s note: Our website is not “American.” It was built by a Jordanian company and funded by apolitical Arab and American philanthropists seeking to improve the quality of coverage about Syria in both English and Arabic. We are a team of Syrians and Americans that combine our strengths to produce professional journalism.

Syria Direct welcomes comments and criticisms, such as this one, that foster discussion about freedom and the press. George Orwell wrote in the 1945 preface to Animal Farm that “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” And, we might add, to listen.

To those in charge of [Syria Direct]

Greetings and salutations to all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must take into account that this website is American, that [it is well-documented that] American media organizations have an active and influential global role, that [this website] has an English language audience, and that Western and American people along with the rest of the world’s people will read it. Whether in a direct or indirect way (despite best intentions) [by writing this article we have fostered] global support for Bashar and his authority, the substantiation of his legitimacy, for as is understood from the title of the article, he enjoys overwhelming popular support.

How could the Sunnis, who want to kill Assad, support him – and if a majority of the Syrian people champion Assad and his rule! Taking into account that the minorities, from the perspective of the West, support him unconditionally – Christians, Druze, Shi’ite, Alawites, Ismailis, and the rest, in addition to what the article’s headline suggests that Sunnis – who compose 85% and not 65% as your article claims – support the power of Assad, then it is inevitable that the readers will conclude that Assad’s power is legitimate since it is supported by the vast majority of the Syrian people across the spectra [of sects].

Then, as those in power have been saying since the beginning of the revolution until now, what’s happening in Syria is the attempt to eliminate the terrorist gangs from Al-Qaeda, the salafists, and the takfirin.

It is wise to be thorough, to reflect on [your] choice of headlines and confirm numbers, especially in a case as serious as our revolution, in which we have faced the gore, injustice, and brutality of the sectarian Syrian authority that has demolished Syria in its entirety, spilt seas of blood from the people, and displaced millions. Here, it is our duty to wonder if an opinion presented by a Syrian person expresses the bare truth in Syria?

What does this say, that the Sunnis are supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad? This is far from the truth, and the media profession requires the search for truth. How can we present delusions upon which positions are based that have no bearing on the life and fate of the Syrian people? We unintentionally allege that the Syrian regime is legitimate and has an overwhelming popular support base.

Yes, there may be Sunni benefactors [of the regime], among those who have business interests or people who sold themselves and abandoned their humanity, etc… but can we say in this case that the Sunnis support Bashar?

Isn’t this an unfounded accusation and a departure from reality, because a majority of Sunnis do not support Bashar? Rather, he is their top enemy: he hurt their families and killed hundreds of thousands of their children, displacing millions more. And I wonder, is a non-Sunni victimized to the same degree by the crimes, killing, arrest, rape, displacement of millions, destruction of places of worship, demolition of their towns – crimes based on the sectarian foundation of Assad’s power, since day one of the revolution?

I ask myself, where is the media’s credibility, where is the transparency essential to the discussion that you conducted? For the discussion began with a claim – that if the Sunnis were united behind the revolution than Bashar would’ve fallen in days – but does this mean that the Sunnis support Bashar? Or does it mean that [the interviewee] is one of them, and said Sunnis are not united [behind the revolution]?

Is it credible and professional journalism to add a headline to an article that is far from the dialogue and substance of the article?

Especially given that most readers just read the article’s headline and do not explore its depths.

I hope that your media outlet does not make this mistake again – we see it as a lethal and crushing mistake for our revolution, and the scattered hopes of our people to gain the patronage of our brothers in humanity, peoples and states, and especially America and Europe.

With a multitude of affection and respect.

Secretary General of the Moderate Party

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