What has been accomplished in a year?
I would say a miracle on the civilian front, mild successes on the political and diplomatic front, and a setback on the military front if viewed. In all cases, successes and failures were the results of choices and decisions made by members of a fragmented society that has internalized a set of intersecting complex layers of myths and faulty images of itself and its surrounding after fifty years of intense propaganda and suppression by a most murderous regime equipped with the most evil instruments of murder, oppression, and propaganda. It is now difficult to call the people who participate in regime activities human, for they have displayed levels of physical and mental brutalities unknown in recent human history.
We are all traumatized by the continuing murders of Syrians, as well as by the endless vulgarity of the regime’s propaganda and propagandists. We are also traumatized by the apparent ability of the regime to prevent the recurrence of the legendary scenes of Hama and Homs and by the obvious apathy of countries and world leaders to the rivers of Syrian bloods and caravans of martyr’s coffins as those carrying their friends and relatives’ coffins join them in death before the funerals reach their destinations. Few amongst us who do not now have a relative who has spent time being tortured by this regime, or is currently held for the offence of seeking dignity and exercising a minimum level of free choice. We are continuously assaulted mentally and verbally by a mindless machinery that keeps repeating the most vulgar words uttered “You want freedom?”. We keep our heads high as we get bombarded with a barrage of endless and vile diatribes by the same bitterly sectarian people, who continue to support a terrorist regime, and dare to call us terrorists as they constantly try to wash this regime’s crimes with defunct claims of resistance and a completely obliterated claim to secularism, rationalism, and even humanity.
We are also very concerned, and perhaps are afraid that these sectarian thugs may succeed in implanting the evil seeds of sectarianism in our midst. It is their only defense against the wave of dignity that will wash them like the dirt they are.
Those who put their entire hope in the armed component of the revolution are traumatized after the massacres in Homs and Idleb and what seems to be a repeat of massacres in Dier-Ezzor and Raqqa. Those who put their faith fully in the civilian arm of this revolution are also disappointed and traumatized by the lack of imagery of massive demonstrations. And those who have put faith in what seems then a viable political structure are as disappointed if not more by the failure of SNC and the lack of viable, principled leadership in tone with the streets.
So where do we stand. We stand at the most important and natural juncture of a revolution unlike others confronting evil unlike others. All what has happened so far will soon result in breaking with “traditional” modes of thinking, and that is a good thing. Here is how I see it from my tree top.
On the civilian side, the regime’s brutality attempted to make civil protest almost impossible from day one. The regime dished all it can: cutting cities into pieces, assassination of civil protest leaders by snipers, torture of tens of thousands of detainees, machine guns blasting protesters en-mass, and intentionally vile and barbaric raids on neighborhoods and towns. And yet the Assad mafia failed in stamping out protest, which is increasing every day in geographic extent. Naturally, you would have those who shamelessly proclaim that the regime has used only 15% of its reliable army as they try to convince us that the fact that the regime is capable and willing to burn Syria for one person is a sufficient justification for us to return and join them as obedient animals in the stables they continue to enjoy living in cowardly accepting their drug of myths and conspiracy theories. The failure of the regime to stamp out civil protests so far shows that the regime’s strongest weapon in the end is useless, and the emphasis on this laughable claim is nothing more than a failed attempt at intimidating what seems to be an indomitable spirit of integrity many Syrians have found in themselves that defies the imagination of the pathetic, fear motivated, self enslaved weak and confuses the arrogance of those who cling to this historical abomination mafia-regime on any other ground.
On the military or armed front, the FSA has received a much needed lesson, and it remains to be seen if its leadership has understood the lesson. It now realizes, after painful experience that it is not out there to hold territory and that their primary responsibility is the protection of soldiers and officers who split from the regime’s army and in protecting, if possible, peaceful demonstrators and as a result, encouraging more people to defect. Granted, recent events may indicate that such lesson is yet to be fully grappled with, but even with the regime’s massacres, FSA continues to enjoy a level of trust and support, which now has become conditional as it should be. FSA now faces a critical shortage of weapons and ammunitions and the strategy of suffocating its resources may be partially successful, but that will force it to adapt to the reality of confronting a much better equipped sadist criminal opponent, who is more than willing to burn Syria for the demented harry-potter fan adolescent sitting in the president’s chair. For now evil outguns the good and the good has to have a change of paradigm and to rely on its far superior ethics to confront the evil of the regime as well as the potential evil of blind collective revenge the regime has been desperately trying to incite with very anemic success.
To further expand on the last point, the regime continues to play its dirty card more aggressively than ever and more obviously than before, same as its representatives in cyber-space who now appear to be nothing more than followers of an intern as called by OTW. I am in agreement with Joshua Landis that the inner circle of the regime has been exposed as extremely sectarian. But I fully disagree with him that the revolution has to turn sectarian in order to confront this regime. Success of civil leaders (despite of the regime) in containing, but not eliminating the sectarian response to the massacres of Homs, and the ability of wise elders in the south to contain the regime’s dirty incitement between Dara’a and Souwaida continue to frustrate the criminal Assads and their cohorts. As a result, the number of disgruntled real intellectuals who hail from minority groups is increasing, and they are becoming more vocal first in condemning the regime and second in refusing sectarian labeling and guilt by association libels thrown at entire communities. I do not expect the pathetic advocates of the regime to be aware of or to be welcomed into such dialog since their primary sources of information are discredited hate spewing outfits like arabi-press and syriatruth and the pages of the demented Syrian electronic Army and a host of Iranian and russian semi-official sites along with a bought and sold Lebanese yellow journals, journalists, and political tails. The dialog I am talking about is occurring on face book pages, in gatherings and over dinner tables that bring the best of what Syria has to offer together to discuss issues that were taboos for long and to replace accusations by heated, yet honest and sincere dialog or more frankly, exactly the antithesis of what the regime propagandists have been doing in cyberspace, printed, and audiovisual media. The level of openness in addressing these issues is increasing, and painful as it is, dialog suppressed by the Assads, who have destroyed the foundation of the social fabric of all Syrian communities, is surfacing again. Hostility and recriminations are out in the open, counter points are debated, and intellectual alliances are forming across the globe between Syrians from all sects and ethnicities for the end, the results are positive in manners the narrow sectarians on either side will never be capable of understanding. Those whose sectarianism was hiding under a thin veneer of secular code-words have been exposed and are forced into the open. The honest ones, far more of them are on the revolution side than on the regime’s side are revisiting their paradigm, and the dishonest, scared ones, who are predominantly on the regime’s side, pathetic as they are, will only entrench in their mindset, as exemplified by some personalities we all have become familiar with.
These efforts will not necessarily result in avoiding low intensity sectarian flare ups here and there, or even massacres, but a consensus is building to counterweight the effects of such conflicts. The wide outlines of this consensus are necessarily anti-reactionary in the sense that these intellectuals are in agreement that the hyper-reactive meaningless arguments displayed by so many in the “we are not pro regime but against YOUR revolution” pretentious camp is to be avoided by all means since It has been exposed as a mask to hide sectarian attitude that permeates its holders to their core and put them squarely in the regime’s camp no matter how far they try t deny.
The ethical and human dimensions of this revolution, its foundation as a quest for dignity and freedom will always be threatened by the presence of a military wing. This is a clear and present danger that has been discussed very eloquently on 7ee6an especially by Zenobia. The trials and tribulations of Homs and other besieged and bombarded cities must be turned around into a reaffirmation of these ethical and human values. The real struggle inside Syria is between a regime striving with all its instruments of murder to maintain a malformed nation where ethics have been obliterated, where a fraudulent concept of citizenship and patriotism aims to maintain a single corrupt family and its servants for ever on the one side, and humanity, progress, and the opportunity to regain of Syria for Syrians, and of normalcy.
A wonderful Syrian I have the honor interacting with since the earliest days of our revolution wrote on his face book page:
The expansion of popular peaceful action into a new areas of the homeland which are entering the revolution rather strongly, the return of peaceful protests into areas that have stopped for while under the relentless weight of the regime’s continuing oppression and murder during the first year of our revolution clearly demonstrate that that peaceful and civil action is the foundation of the revolution of dignity and freedom and that armed action, through the successive defection from the regime’s army and the joining of the Free Syrian Army is only complimentary to the popular revolution and not its leader. Whether the world interfered, or remained a spectator, or supported the murderous gang, that gang will undoubtedly fall.
I believe what he wrote is true.