However, the collapse of a regime does not automatically mean the rise of a democratic alternative. This scenario is also attended by various risks and hurdles, chief among them the inability of the Syrian opposition thus far to produce a unified political vision that overcomes its differences, or to rise above the logic of excommunication and exclusion, in order to send reassuring messages to the large segments of Syrian society that remain hesitant. We must remember that a section of this opposition has rejected the Arab Initiative, relying instead on international intervention and only abandoning this option once it was informed by the Western powers that this option was not forthcoming. There are sections in Syrian society that see the possibility of a civil war and the threat of the Iraqi model, fearing the receptiveness of a portion of the opposition to the notion of foreign military intervention, which is rejected by a silent majority among Syrian society that witnessed its effects in neighboring Iraq. To these hurdles should be added the threat of the division and fragmentation of the Syrian Army, and its inability to play a future role as a guarantor preventing civil war from taking place, if change happens in a non-peaceful manner. Therefore, and for this scenario to come to pass, the Syrian opposition must abandon the rhetoric that continually accuses opponents of treason, and which it has been employing in the recent phase; the opposition also must refrain from trying to clone experiments that do not correspond to the nature of Syrian society, which is ethnically and religiously diverse.
Even though this scenario is currently unlikely - since the Arab Initiative came as a preemptive move by the Arab League to avoid the internationalization of the crisis and its descent into the course of military intervention along the Iraqi and Libyan models it remains a latent possibility. There are indications auguring for this scenario in the medium and long term, and it is currently known in Syria as the “devil” scenario. The most important of these indications is the regime’s continual rejection of the Arab solution, halting violence, and entering into a transitional process of change, which takes place in tandem with the increasing penchant of domestic and foreign parties to push the revolution toward militarization, the carrying of arms and demands for border “buffer zones” along the lines of the Libyan scenario - especially with the regime’s insistence on adopting the “Samson” option. Consequently, we would find ourselves faced with a situation similar to Iraq in 2003, with the appearance of an opposition that calls for and instigates foreign military intervention, or the militarization of the revolution and the creation of “liberated” zones from which armed groups would be ready to wage their attacks against the regime.
This scenario is widely viewed as the most dangerous for Syria and the Arab world as it would represent a regression of the Arab Spring, whose first fruits are being harvested in Tunisia following the election of the Constituent Assembly. This scenario would imply a dangerous dimension of sectarian and ethnic division in Syrian society, causing Syria to becoming an engine for the destruction of the mosaic that is the Arab Mashreq, instead of being a democratic state that contributes to confronting sectarianism. This scenario also would lead to the shrinking of Syria’s importance and its inability to influence major issues, especially those regarding the conflict with Israel. Syria would become an arena for the struggle of regional international powers according to their interests, and the ramifications of such a process would reflect on Lebanon and other Arab states, leading to a complex Arab situation that represents a hurdle to the process of democratic transformation in other countries.
As such, a great responsibility falls upon the Arab League and pan-Arab action to create mechanisms that prevent the occurrence of this scenario, and instead produce solutions within the Arab circle, outside the agendas and interests of regional and international actors. The Syrian opposition, with all its factions, carries the greatest burden of responsibility because of its current negative role and its inability to produce the political vision that would encourage the majority of the people to engage in the movement, and to feel, in a tangible manner, the benefits of democratic change.