Tunisian leftist leader Chokri Belaid’s negative opinion on the Syrian revolution came to light as soon as the news of his assassination came out. His opinion on the revolution was spread for several reasons which were not all innocent.
Belaid did not appreciate the revolution or its cause, or for that matter the many who sacrificed their lives for its continuance. He went so far so as to consider it a conspiracy orchestrated by foreign parties.
It is worth noting how much attention this opinion has received, it is almost equal to the attention paid to his political struggle which resulted in his murder.
Belaid’s stance on the Syrian revolution does not at all decrease the pain of his assassination. It does not decrease the solidarity with his family and party and with Tunisian parties that confront Islamist tyranny.
But Chokri Belaid’s confrontation of tyranny does not mean that every word he said was one of integrity. If we consider the opposite, i.e. that all his statements were honest and of integrity, we simply fall into the trap of sanctifying him as the symbol of the opposition. Therefore, Belaid’s position regarding the Syrian revolution resembles the stance of his murderers towards him, both are based on shallow ideas, both kill when there is a chance to do so.
When Belaid ascribed the Syrian revolution to foreign powers, he was not aware that Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the sheikh of “Ennahda” in his country, also ascribed the continuous popular acts in Tunisia to France.
Belaid’s opinion may have represented an extreme view about the situation in some Arab countries and the various phases of a revolution. A person who finished their revolt to find themself confronting Islamists and their rule, like the situation is in Tunisia and Egypt, is not the same as he who is still engaged in a revolution and attempting to find means of consensus among parties that are fighting a mutual enemy. This is exactly what the situation in Syria is.
If, when analyzing Tunisia’s situation, we ignore this fact and slip into adopting a simplified stance against the Syrian revolution, the result will be defending the regime of Zein el Abedine Ben Ali because he was the barrier against the Islamist “conspiracy” which brought Ghannouchi and Jabali to power.
This is of course what Belaid did not mean when he struggled and sacrificed against Ben Ali’s authority before paying with his life while confronting Ghannouchi’s authority.
Coldly judging Belaid’s statements only leads to regretting the eruption of Tunisia’s revolution and the “Arab Spring.” Although the late, great man did not mean to reflect such a negative opinion of the Arab Spring series, many similar politicians and ideologies in Syria, Lebanon and other countries have espoused such a view and meant it.
There is no doubt that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and former Egyptian, Yemeni, Tunisian and Libyan presidents are the founders of this method of looking into events and judging history.
This article was published in al-Hayat daily on Feb. 12, 2013.
Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghieh is a senior columnist and editor at al-Hayat daily. He grew up in Lebanon during the golden age of pan-Arabism. Saghieh’s vision of a united Arab world was shattered when the Israelis emerged victorious from the 1967 war. Twitter: @HazemSaghieh