RIM TURKMANI, rimturkmani at gmail.com, @Rim_Turkmani
Turkmani is a co-founder of Building the Syrian State Current. She is available for a limited number of interviews. The group recently released a statement: “We condemn utterly the use of chemical weapons in Syria whether by the regime or by any other party, just as we condemn all forms of violence in the Syrian political conflict and we continue to work hard on ending the violence and the armed conflict.
“At the same time we oppose any foreign military intervention in Syria under any pretext, because it does not serve the Syrian aspiration for freedom and justice. Instead it will exacerbate the crisis, push the parties of the armed conflict to escalate their armed actions, and push them to use the worst of weapons.
“Through its threat of a military strike against the Syrian forces, the United States is aggravating the conflict in Syria instead of resolving it. This risks the security of the whole region and directly contributes to fueling the conflict in Syria, including the civil fight.
“At the same time, the Syrian regime is pushing the country to devastation by provoking, though its behavior, an external aggression that will destroy what is left of Syrian society. The regime is doing this through its obstinate rejection of any genuine political solution to the Syrian crisis, and by acting like a big militia in dealing with the political conflict in the country. It has limited its action to the dealing with the armed conflict and treating all the armed groups as terrorist organizations. It has also continued to suppress and arrest nonviolent activists.
“We dispute the claimed U.S. motives for this strike, and we refuse its role as the world’s policeman, judge and jury. We do not see it as a neutral party to the armed conflict in Syria. Just like Russia, the U.S. is involved to the fullest extent in this conflict. And as a party to the conflict, we demand it makes serious and responsible efforts to end the Syrian crisis.” See full statement.
MEL DUNCAN, mduncan at nonviolentpeaceforce.org,
Founding director of Nonviolent Peaceforce, Duncan recently wrote: “During my visit to Syria and Lebanon last May, I met with representatives of the Syrian government, religious leaders, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Hezbollah, the nonviolent opposition, the Free Syrian Army and the UN. Most important, I talked with refugees in Lebanon and internally displaced people in rebel-held territories in Syria. …
“Syrians must decide Syria’s future. What started as a nonviolent uprising has been hijacked into a geo-political, sectarian war that is anything but civil. The displaced people I met don’t care a whit about these international crosscurrents. They want to go home. Yet the country is whiplashed by proxy wars: U.S.-Russia, Iran-Saudi Arabia, Israel-Hezbollah and on and on. And religious differences have been inflamed in what was a secular country. As one colleague from Aleppo told me, ‘I didn’t know I was Sunni until I was 20.’
“At this very moment, courageous Syrian women and men are working for a peaceful settlement. They are mostly ignored by the world. Most of them are opposed to the government. Some lean toward the regime. They are doing peacebuilding and reconciliation work. They are establishing local cease-fire zones. While differing in viewpoints, they share a commitment to a peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Syria. One nonviolent opposition leader explained, “We have much more in common with the ‘logical loyalists’ than the radical opposition. We don’t want to live under Sharia law.
“The Syrians working nonviolently for a sustainable Syria deserve our support, not a fragmented, violent opposition who are committing war crimes. These civil-society actors, a substantial number of whom are women, provide the common ground for a peaceful transition. They need diplomatic and financial support. Their leadership needs to be promoted in the international initiatives including Geneva II. Chairs at negotiating tables should not be reserved exclusively for men with guns. …”