By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
The “national covenant” document presented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, which calls for a civil state after the ouster of Bashar Assad, the rights of minorities and women, and a guarantee that democracy in Syria is not exploited by the majority over the minority, is not only a major event in Syria, but it is also evidence of a revolution inside the Brotherhood itself, where a large rock has now been thrown into stagnant Brotherhood water across the region.
The Syrian Brotherhood proved that they have changed, just like it is said that Syria has changed, but they also sent a clear message to their mother organization, specifically in Egypt, as well as to the rest of the Arab world, and the overt and covert Brotherhood organizations in the Gulf. What the Syrian Brotherhood presented in their document was a message of reassurance for all segments of Syrian society, and likewise the international community, but they also killed two birds with one stone, because they destroyed many of the concepts that lead to the Brotherhood being criticized elsewhere.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood document means that the state will be motherland, rather than pursuing a concept of abolishing the state, or “to hell with Egypt” as the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt once said. Therefore the state will not be sold, or so we assume, to the General Guide, but rather there will be a social contract between the state and the people, as prescribed by the constitution.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood document also means that the religion of God and the homeland are for all, there are no exclusions and no prejudices. Whoever comes to power will have to offer a project that benefits the state and its citizens; the slogan “Islam is the solution” will not help to pay mobile phone bills and it will not open schools, but instead there,must be hard work and dedication, according to a clear vision, through the concepts of peaceful coexistence and communication with the international community. This is how a state is build, and Syria can no longer be an international outcast and an ally of those who live in the basements and caves, such as Hassan Nasrallah and those like him.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood document is an important message for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who are walking in the same footsteps as the Mubarak regime by excluding parties and monopolizing everything. Even if they came to power via the ballot box, the issue here is building a homeland, rather than exploiting the moment. Homelands are not built by exploiting moments; this only leads to conflict. As for building the state and drafting the constitution, this is not a battle but rather a vision for the future, as constitutions are written with the future in mind, not the past.
Hence, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood document is important, and a message of reassurance for the Syrians in all their walks of life, religions and sects. Likewise it is reassuring for Syria’s neighbors, specifically Lebanon and Jordan. As for Iraq, it needs to reassure the Syrians, and not vice versa. When I say that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood document is reassuring and progressive — at least on paper — this is because it serves to advance the visions of all Brotherhood organizations in the region. It is clearly a step toward the vision of the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey, which the Syrian branch is moving closer to.
The national covenant also serves to reassure the international community, and acts as a restraint upon any other Islamic trend in Syria, as whoever deviates will ultimately stand out. The document also provides a breakthrough for Yemen, Libya and Tunisia, and sends a message to embarrass the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, because their vision seems the most backwards.
Meanwhile, in the Gulf, the document will serve as an alarm bell for the Brotherhood organizations there, because here is the Syrian Brotherhood, after decades of conflict with the Assad regime, recognizing the concept of the state and the rights of women and minorities, so what is the agenda of the Brotherhood organizations in the stable Gulf who want to overturn the concepts of the state and citizenship there?
In truth this is a major event.
— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]