Syrian Scholar Speaks Out

By Shane P. Donnelly

On Monday, Syrian scholar Dr. Radwan Ziadeh visited campus to discuss the current political situation in Syria in relation to the Arab Spring. His lecture began with a 15-minute film produced by the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS), an organization founded by Dr. Ziadeh, which described the case of Thamer al-Sharei, a teenage boy beaten to death by interrogators after being captured by Syrian forces during the government crackdowns on protests. Thamer’s case is just one of thousands of incidences of violence being inflicted on children and reflects the increasingly violent nature of protests over the last eight months.

In attempting to explain the prolonged nature of the government’s violent suppression on opposition groups, Dr. Ziadeh cited several reasons for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule. He was especially critical of the international community, notably members of the Arab League and members of the UN Security Council, for failing to properly apply pressure on the Syrian presidency in a timely manner. As the conflict between the government and the opposition movement intensifies, there is disagreement on the degree of foreign intervention, especially considering the deadly consequences of international interference in Libya.

The Ba’ath Party, led by President al-Assad’s father for three decades between 1970 and 2000, has barred the formation of political parties throughout its rule, initially leading to a clear lack of leadership among the various opposition groups calling for real democracy. In September, the Syrian National Council (SNC) emerged as an organized collective of opposition groups, hoping to lead the overall opposition movement in Syria and possibly act as the transitional government when the president is successfully removed from power. Dr. Ziadeh, who currently serves as the head of foreign relations for the SNC, stressed its dedication to achieving a democratic solution through nonviolent means.

The Arab League, which acts as a mediating force between al-Assad and the opposition forces, called an emergency meeting in Cairo today (Nov. 11) to expedite the peace process.



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