Haitham Manna’

Haitham Manna’ is one of the most respected Arab human rights activists. In the first days of the Syrian uprising he had very inspirational words for the protesters. As the uprising progressed, however, Manna’ has become a disappointment. Here are my issues with him:

1-      Manna’ lacks imagination: He is unable to picture a future without Assad. Barely two months into the uprising, in an appearance on Al Jazeera English, he said, and I paraphrase: Let us face it; we have failed to bring out enough people onto the street. This was before the massive demonstrations in Hama, Idlib and Deir Al-Zor had begun.

2-      Manna’ continues to talk about a silent majority. In Syria, and Manna’ of all people should know this, there is no silent majority. Silent majorities occur in free societies, not in very repressive ones like Syria. Any argument built on what the “silent” majority (in Syria) thinks or does not think is fundamentally flawed.

3-      As protesters became adamant in their demands for the downfall of the regime, Manna’ has continued to talk about a nebulous “transition” to democracy in which the regime plays a part. Perhaps his long years of documenting the crimes of Arab regimes have engendered in him a strong streak of defeatism?

4-      His biggest misstep thus far, and one that demonstrates a baffling degree of political naiveté, is his belief that the now moribund Arab League agreement has any chance of succeeding.  Bashar Al-Assad did not even pretend to implement the agreement, and in the week since it was signed more than 100 Syrians have been killed, but Manna’ still believes there is a possibility it could work.

Haitham Manna’ is vocal against any international intervention in Syria. However, he is failing to see that unless there is significant international pressure on this regime that is driving Syria toward civil war, international intervention in Syria becomes more likely. Finally, Manna’ has built his reputation on documenting the crimes of Arab regimes – it is sad to see him act as a useful idiot for one.


About bsyria

A Syrian writing about Syria. I also work in twitter: @BSyria
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5 Responses to Haitham Manna’

  1. Omar says:

    There is nothing to make one sad,the longer syrian revolution time,the more suspected activists to be curved from the right way.
    That is really selective environment for those are having regime loyality even moderated.
    I thank GOD they appear now not later,and there is more others to be removed from the revo. List.

  2. Chubby says:

    This is very well written. It’s sad to see him turn on his own people like this!

  3. Convincing arguments!But still coming to my mind why Mr.BSyria excluded some options like political bribery that Manna has been promised (by regime or Iran and Hezbolla)??
    Meanwhile,i could not understand his views after his brother got shot before our eyes!

  4. farishalabi says:

    Although i am not a big fan of Haitham Manna, but i think some of the criticism is more than what he deserve.
    first point about hem declaring that “we failed to bring the mass” was true at the time when he gave the statement on TV, now later if big demonstration happen in hama and homs would not mean that he was wrong given the available info at that time. We can also change the word from ” silent majority” to the “still scared majority or not brave enough majority to risk their life”.
    As for the Arab League initiative, i agree that it would not work because regime never intended to implemented it, but i am fine with people who are still trying or hoping it works. Many others who paid with their lives to stand up to the regime and talk when all of us where not willing to do anything take his position too. It would be good and healthy environment to have a debate and parties which agrees and others who dont agree, I feel it would create a debate and discussion which can only be good for the people.
    Mr. Manna had suffered more than many of us, he went to jail and his brother was killed and father suffered from the regime, so i cannot doubt his loyalty to the people and to the country. I disagree with his position but respect him and his opinion and time will tell how wrong or right he was. Meanwhile i think it is healthy to have different opinions, this will only strengthen the opposition not weaken it.

  5. Bob Frost says:

    This is a very interesting blog which confirms the disinterest of the US and the West in general in supporting the call by the ‘National Council’ for “intervention,” as in the Libyan example.

    The Islamist ‘National Council’ would, by all appearances, such as the nonsense above, replace the Assad regime by an Islamist regime, probably much worse for the Syrian people.

    They are essentially very violent people. It is not that they only shoot down, at the moment verbally, but later with a firearm, anybody who disagrees with them, but they have demonstrated over the last ten months a strange capacity at deceit, fabrications and complete disregard for human life, while claiming consistently that the Assad regime is responsible. Even when they shoot and kill Syrian Army officers, they claim that the battle was between the Army and a group of Army dissenters.

    The latest outrage, in Damascus is one example. Publicly, we may not point the figure at the Muslim Brothers, but that act was contrary to the agreements Frances had with them, vis. “No repeat of the 1980s bombing campaign!”

    We have informers, we have satellites, we have the facts – we simply do not trust this crowd.

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