So Syrian opposition groups met in Antalya. I closely followed that conference and read about their deliberations and received reports about it.
There are Syrian leftists who argue with me constantly that I should not reduce the Syrian opposition to lousy Khaddam or lousy Ma’mun Humsi (a tool of Hariri Inc.) or lousy war criminal Rif’at Asad (a tool of House of Saud), or even the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. I argue I can accept the first three quibbles but not the fourth. It can not be denied that the Muslim Brotherhood commands the support of a big section of Syrian public opinion. This does not mean that leftists should support the Syrian regime — of course. No, but I feel that we are obligated to express opposition to the repressive Syrian regime while criticizing disturbing trends among the Syrian opposition.
The Muslim Brotherhood ran the conference in Antalya and the statement that spoke about the “civil state” is not going to fool me because US representatives in Antalya (yes they were there) pressed for an inclusive statement. This is exactly what the US tried to do in conferences by the Iraqi exile opposition before the Ayatullah Sistani republic was set up in Iraq.
One should not make his/her opposition to a particular regime (Arab or Iranian) a blanket endorsement for the dominant opposition movement. Instead, we should be criticizing those opposition movements that try to hijack a popular uprising. The branches of the Muslim Brotherhood are all bad: but the Syrian branch is one of the worst, by far. It is the most opportunist of them all.
As’ad AbuKhalil is a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. This note was published on his blog The Angry Arab News Service on 4 June 2011; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.