Mohammed Sobhi. Photo: ARA News
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Urfa, Turkey – Mohammed Sobhi is a Syrian writer and activist in the field of civil society organizations “CSOs”, a former member of Damascus Declaration for Democratic Change, the former president of Sabkha Local Council in Syria’s Raqqa province, and Raqqa’s representative in the opposition-led Interim National Assembly. ARA News interviewed Sobhi to talk about CSOs role during the Syrian crisis.
“Due to the ongoing crisis, CSOs did not grow in a balanced way that reflects the nature and diversity of the Syrian people,” he said.
Sobhi thinks that nascent CSOs established under democracy and freedom slogans were unable to “fulfill people’s needs in care and protection”. “They rather made living conditions harder and increased poverty and misery as well as worsened women and children status.”
“Despite all the efforts, sectarianism and nationalistic disputes increased,” Sobhi told ARA News.
Talking about the Syrian Interim Government (linked to the opposition’s Syrian National Coalition ‘SNC’) and its rol in supporting CSOs, Sobhi compared revolutionary and opposition bodies with the “Baathi Syrian regime” that tried to frame the work of these institutions, link them with al-Baath Party and ideologize them to be under control.
“The Interim Government was also deficient; recognizing and giving warrants to CSOs is based on nepotism though these organizations must not follow any authority,” Sobhi clarified.
In sobhi’s opinion, the Interim Government does not include diverse and wide political spectrum or practically accept others.
“The interim Government is dealing with its sub-offices in Turkey’s Mardin and Urfa with the same exclusion mentality of the Syrian regime. All opposition institutions including CSOs suffer from the same old disease; nepotism and opportunism,” Sobhi added.
In his response on a potential international effort to establish civic institutions following the failure of the political and military bodies in finding solution for the Syrian crisis, Sobhi said: “Western countries tried to establish pre-planned CSOs which barely succeeded due to militarization and the regime-practiced extremism.”
“Our society needs structural culture to uphold the idea of civil society that expresses people’s interests and aspirations,” Sobhi stated to ARA News.
Sobhi considered the survival of the Assad regime as the main reason to prevent creation of a democratically coherent civil society based on mutual respect and need to others.
Whether the Syrian Interim Government, the SNC and CSOs are able to regionally and internationally prove being better alternative to the regime or not, Sobhi said: “This may happen when the opposition upholds democracy in Syria.”
“This democracy will lead to mutual interest-based relations with other countries as well as the international peace which guarantees dignity and development for Syrians,” he argued. “This will clarify the revolution’s programmes and place the opposition at the top of the political scale in order to find radical solutions for extremism and tyranny.”
In this regard, Sobhi mentioned Raqqa province’s experience where Civil Society organizations were unable to develop or stop the extremist Islamic wave to build civil social container, as the main condition of freedom and democracy was not achieved to allow the society to organize itself based on the rule of free competition.
“The liberation failed in Raqqa as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was unable to fill the security vacuum; rather it was busy in confiscating the private and public money,” he said.
“Raqqa society resorted to more extremist factions (in reference to the Islamic State militants and other Islamist factions) that later repealed all freedoms and expelled activists,” Sobhi told ARA News.
Sobhi concluded by holding the Syrian National Coalition and the Interim Government responsible for the consequences of not establishing a democratic model in the “liberated areas”, among which the separation of CSOs instead of collaboration on general programmes to build the society.
Interviewing by: Redwan Bizar
Source: ARA News