The Islamic manifestations that accompanied the Syrian revolution early on were justified as being “temporary,” and the product of horrible repression practiced, and still being practiced, by the Syrian regime against the people over four decades. In such a situation, mosques have become the only venues left for gathering and demonstrating.
We used to downplay criticisms made against the Syrian revolution, with regard to the influence and dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood. We did so under the banner: May the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power and the Assad regime go to hell.
It turned out that we, as secularists, liberals, democrats and leftists opposed to the Assad regime, have committed a grave mistake by having allowed ourselves to be a channel that has helped the Muslim Brotherhood agenda to develop, or “Islamize the Syrian revolution.” The Muslim Brotherhood has already taken long and significant strides to implement this agenda and reinforce it on the ground!
This catastrophic mistake allowed the group to push the revolution down a more dangerous path, i.e., sectarianism, through the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s wing in the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Today, as a result of its growing military presence in the FSA, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to pull the revolution into the swamps of nationalism and racism by announcing the formation of battalions named after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In a blatant act of defiance, and in a move aimed at provoking the feelings of Kurds in general and Syrian Kurds in particular, the FSA announced the formation of two battalions called “the Martyr Saddam Hussein” in the cities of Idlib and Deir al-Zour.
The Muslim Brotherhood is not solely responsible for such an act, but rather all of the secular currents, forces and figures opposed to the regime share in this responsibility. These acts, which are condemned and seen as worrisome by Kurds and all Syrians, might push the people to retract and backtrack on their support for the revolution.
Moreover, the fact that the names of the FSA battalions are adapted from Islamic terminology — including names of the companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad — is a booby-trapped path, which makes it possible for the Brotherhood to accuse anyone who criticizes its behavior as being against Islam, the Prophet and his companions! Certainly, this is a false, shameful and scary accusation.
But the history of Syria is full of great heroes whose names can be given to the FSA battalions, rather than adopting Islamic names, not to mention the name of Saddam Hussein.
What if, for example, the Iraqis named their Sunni militias or military factions after late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, or his sons Bashar and Basil al-Assad?!
Naming the FSA battalions after Saddam Hussein was met with overwhelming outrage and condemnation by the Kurds. It also strengthened the arguments and justifications of some Kurdish groups that are trying to discredit the Syrian revolution due to the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Islamic groups.
What is certain is that the Brotherhood — through political statements made by Ali al-Bayanouni and Muhammad Riyadh Al-Shaqfa denying that the Kurds constitute the demographic majority in Kurdish areas, as well as through naming FSA battalions after Saddam Hussein — is revealing its intention to change the system of governance from a failed secular-sectarian system to a strict Islamic-nationalist one! The group is acting as if it is opposed to any peace process between Turkey and its Kurds so that the situation will not have repercussions inside Syria. Thus, the group is thriving on continued conflict and violence in Turkey.
This has begun to worry the Kurds, as well as other components of Syrian society, including Sunnis. It is also worrying the whole world, while at the same time serving the Syrian regime. It is as if there is an implicit alliance between the Assad regime and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of distorting and derailing the revolution.