Monday, November 18, 2013

Talk About the Next Syrian Revolution

The civil war in Syria had its roots in the peaceful struggles of its peoples against Assad for more democracy but developed into an armed struggle by the militarisation of protests and then the intervention of foreign governments and infiltration of foreign jihadists.

This reflective article by a Syrian activist is worth quoting from so we can understand the situation a little better.

 “ ...he believes that his message, unpopular among his revolutionary colleagues, is one they need to hear — that their revolution has ended; that a dangerous wave of Islamic extremism has welled up in its place; that they should work to stop the fighting now; and that if they can’t, they should hope it’s Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who wins...

“To simply say I want Assad to win would be a disaster if anyone heard it,” the activist says. “But we’ve created a monster. For too long on the ground, there was too much focus on the crimes the regime was committing and not enough on our own problems. And addressing these problems was always being delayed. So we knew there was some sort of Islamism in the fighting even when it was starting back in 2012 and we would ignore this, because we would say it would all end soon — Assad is going to fall in two weeks; Assad is going to fall in a month; Assad’s going to fall in Aleppo. At each moment, we thought it was going to end very soon, and that meant we were neglecting the mistakes that were being made [among the revolution]. We were thinking, OK, the regime’s going to fall, and we can solve this later. We just need to get rid of Assad. This was a big mistake...”

The activist has little hope for a political solution — a peace conference expected in Geneva this month was delayed again this week. Even if talks moved ahead, he adds, the moderate opposition wouldn’t have much say.
 “We’ve reached this point where we have two powers that are recognized by the international community — the Syrian regime and the extremist groups on the ground,” he says. “The third group [the moderate opposition] is very weak, even though it’s the majority in Syria. We don’t have anyone to defend the group. We don’t have weapons. We don’t have finances. We don’t have media. So yes, if I’m going to choose which side I wish would win at this stage, I would choose the side that’s already in power rather than seeing the extremist side jump into power and destroy everyone else. The extremist groups do not seek a revolution in Syria — or at least, not a democratic one. They seek an Islamic one. And it’s something that’s not accepted by the majority of the country, whether you support Assad or you don’t. I would prefer that Assad wins at a stage like this for one reason: all of the other alternatives are totally unacceptable. I would not cheer the idea of Assad winning. I would not help in any way,” the activist says, adding that he’d keep up his fight against the government. “But I will accept it.”...

...“A lot of people would argue that, if the regime wins, there would be no space whatsoever for another revolution, because the regime would come back 10 times stronger. The majority of people say that. I think that’s total nonsense.”
The activist says that the moderate opposition is much more capable of resisting Assad than it was before the revolution, when political life was stifled and activists worked in the shadows, often unknown even to each other. “What we have in Syria now is local councils,” the activist says, referring to the civilian administrative groups that have sprouted up in rebel-held territory across the country, “and political and activist groups, whereas before March 2011 we had nothing. It was just a few people that were anonymous online.
“We have groups now. We have experience. We know how to perform demonstrations now. We know how to have contact with the media. We know how to provide aid and how to set up field hospitals. It’s a totally different situation now. And we learned from our mistakes.
“I think it’s definitely possible to see a revolution in the future. But if we don’t accept that we have lost now—that our revolution has stopped, or been put on pause, and that is a big dispute among activists—then that means that everything that’s happening now, and all the crimes that are being committed by Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, will be written in history as part of the Syrian revolution. Do you see what I mean? If we can differentiate between this period that was the Syrian revolution, and this period now that is a messy situation that came as a result of a dictator standing against a revolution, then I think we can keep our revolution clean and our aspirations clean and our ideals in place. But if we keep going down this line, then we will turn our revolution into an Islamic revolution, and I think this will be known in history as the Islamic revolution in Syria."

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