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Bashar Sba’i’s Return

Re-post By Joshua Landis, Aug. 1, 2009

Bashar Sba’i, a leading member of the Syrian opposition in exile, has thrown in the towel. He quit the opposition movement and has found an accommodation with the Syrian government that allowed him to return home after 28 years.

Syria’s opposition movement is in shambles. Obama’s victory changed the calculations of the opposition in exile. US government supplied MEPI money, which sustained some, has dried up. But mostly, Syrians, who had hoped that President Bush would “reform the greater Middle East” as promised, understood it was not to be. President Assad is firmly in control at home; the Iraq fiasco has re-legitimized authoritarianism in the Middle East, at least tmeporarily; and Obama has little choice but to engage with America’s erstwhile enemies in the region, as he is now doing.

The National Salvation Front, of which Sba’i was a leading member and articulate and passionate spokesperson, has crumbled. The Muslim Brotherhood announced it was pulling out of its alliance with ex-Vice President Khaddam in April and was seeking a new relationship with the Assad regime. The immediate pretext for this move was the Gaza war, but the M.B’s rational for linking up with old Baathists, such as Khaddam, disapeared with the departure of President Bush.

Bashar Sba’i, who had joined Khaddam’s effort as the director of his Zenobia TV, also decided the time had come to mend fences with the Syrian government. Having lived abroad since 1981, he was lonely for his homeland. The pull of family must be great. America, as well, is less the attraction that it was some years ago. In full recession, with a budget that has grown out of control, the US has seen its best days as a symbol of world leadership. Prejudice against Arabs and Muslims is at an all time high. Sba’i also tells us that the leadership of the Syrian opposition in exile was not inspiring.

It is in this context, that Bashar al-Sba’i, whose articles are copied below, must have negotiated a deal with the Syrian government to go home a short time ago.

Bashar al-Sba’i writes a long article extolling the wisdom of Assad’s rule in Syria, explaining that the president is responding to the demands of the age for stability, security and keeping the country from being torn apart by sectarian and ethnic divisions.

He apologizes for working with the opposition, claiming that the opposition painted an unjustifiably bleak picture of conditions in Syria and blamed the president wrongly. He claims that after living in the West and American, he was taken by the rule of law, democracy and progress he saw around him and naively wanted it for Syria. He did not take local conditions into account…..

Here is the original All4Syria, April 22 story about the break up of the Salvation Front. Bashar Sba’i’ announces and explains his resignation.

“Damascus Spring” is Bashar el-Sba’i’s blog. He wrote frequent and lively commentary on these pages under a pseudonym.  Many of the participants on Syria Comment had long conversations with Bashar, both on the phone and in the comment section over the last three years.

The following is a translation contributed by JAD of a only a part of Bashar al-Sba’i’s first article after returning to Damascus.

“All I can say today after having arrived a few days ago in my hometown, Damascus, is that Syria today is changing for the better, developing, flourishing, and enjoy security, tolerance and love under the same leadership whose good intentions I questioned for months. What I couldn’t imagine or expect, what I saw and heard about the President of the country exceed my expectation of enlightened thoughts and acts in the interest of the country, the homeland and the citizen, that was truly unexpected.

Today I am unable to find words to express my thanks and my gratitude for this leadership to allow me to be a witness and a participant on the ground in the building of this fatherland and it’s primacy in my future field of work.  I hope that my own personal experience is proof of the change and reform Syria is going through and is an example of trust and confidence for all Syrian citizens abroad to return home.” Bashar Siba’i

بيان من بشار سبيعي
07/ 07/ 2009

منذ إصدار بيان اعتزالي العمل السياسي المنظم بكل أشكاله وأنواعه منذ أكثر من شهرين , تسلمت الكثير من الرسائل والاتصالات الهاتفية من أعضاء في المعارضة السورية في الخارج تضمنت أكثرها تساؤلات إذا كنت أنوي الرجوع إلى سورية في المستقبل القريب , وقد كانت تلك الفكرة حينها من أبعد الخواطر عن ذهني لما فيها من مخاطر نسمع عنها فقط في الإعلام المعارض للنظام السوري في الخارج .
لقد كنت من الناشطين السياسيين أكثر الحدة في النقد لهذه الحكومة والأجهزة الأمنية في مقالاتي السابقة , وكنت أشعر آنذاك , أن ما أكتبه عن الممارسات الشمولية لهذه الحكومة ضد أبناء شعبها ووطنها واجب على كل مواطن سوري يعشق الحرية والديمقراطية أينما وجد فأنا لم أكن أعرف بعد مدى حقيقة رغبة الحكومة السورية في التغيير والإصلاح بجميع أشكاله وأطيافه ومدى جديتها في ذلك وكنت أتابع عبر الإعلام حالات الإعتقال والإدانات الصادرة عن محكمة أمن الدولة ضد نشطاء سياسيين وكتّاب في مجال الديمقراطية والحرية وحقوق الإنسان وهذا ما جعلني أكثر خوفاً على أن أفكر بجدية كاملة في الرجوع إلى ربوع الوطن بما أنني كنت واحداً من هؤلاء الأشخاص في السابق .
ولكن ظروفي الخاصة واشتياقي لبلدي وأهلي وأصدقائي بعد أكثر من ثلاثة عقود من الزمن في الغربة حملني على التفكير جدياً بالعودة , وهذا بالواقع ما حصل تماماً وعلى عكس ما كنت متصوراً , ها أنا أخط هذه الكلمات اليوم حراً طليقاً من أجمل مدينة في العالم دمشق .
كل ما أستطيع أن أقوله اليوم بعد أيام قليلة من وصولي إلى مسقط رأسي أن سورية اليوم تتغير نحو الأفضل , وتكبر وتزدهر وتنعم بالأمن والتسامح والمحبة تحت نفس القيادة التي كنت أشكك في نواياها الحسنة منذ شهور وهذا ما لم أكن أتصوره وأتوقعه ، إن ما سمعته وما شاهدته عن رئيس البلاد كان فائق التصور من فكر مستنير وفعل لمصلحة البلاد والوطن والمواطن ، كان ذلك بالحقيقة يفوق الوصف .
وأنا اليوم عاجز عن إيجاد الكلمات المعبرة عن الشكر والإمتنان لهذه القيادة لإتاحة الفرصة لي بأن أكون شاهداً ومشاركاً على الأرض في بناء هذا الوطن ورفع شأنه في مجال عملي المستقبلي .
وأتمنى أن تكون سيرتي الذاتية برهاناً لحقيقة التغيير والإصلاح المنشود ومثالاً للثقة والطمأنينة لكل مواطن سوري في الخارج يفكر في العودة إلى ربوع وطنه .
بشار سبيعي
عضو جبهة الخلاص سابقاً و مدير البرامج السياسية في قناة / زنوبيا

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