There was, at one point, a strong conviction among large segments of Syrian society that the fall or overthrow of the regime would inevitably lead to a democratic alternative. This conviction lasted for a while, during which the protest movement was peaceful, despite the bloodshed caused by the regime.
However, things became more complex in the aftermath of the military operations carried out by both the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the resistance. Following the formation of the so-called Syrian National Council (SNC), complexity was the name of the game. Prospects for the future looked dim and an anti-democratic alternative — that of Islamic governance — loomed on the horizon.
The Islamic Alternative has been difficult to characterize. This is in part due to the diversity and conflicting styles and strategies followed by the Islamist forces, especially the armed ones. These forces promise anything but civil peace, national unity and a democratic alternative. They want to undermine the state for its secular, infidel nature. They reject notions of equality and principles of justice.
The SNC has brought — with the help of the regime — all Arab, regional and international powers into Syria. Syria is now a battle field for all of the outside powers one can think of.
Moreover, Syrians have been exposed to risks far beyond their control, including widespread foreign intervention and a lurking civil war. As a result, an enormous segment of Syrian society has has started to feel confused, fearful and remorseful. According to this segment, the revolution’s original direction — that which they had hoped would lead to freedom, justice and equality — has been forgotten.
For them, a future that felt certain has now become nothing more than a vague promise — which might not be kept by the Islamist groups known for their lies, lust for power and cooperation with foreign powers. Either that or it has been replaced by a sentiment of imminent danger, which is announced by daily developments both big and small within Syria.
Meanwhile, the revolutionary movement is losing its character. Revolutionaries and freedom seekers are being distanced from their projects and their reputations are being distorted.
Moreover, a decadent mentality now prevails, one that ignores both human and political considerations. This mentality is the source of the blind murders and vengeful actions that are occurring based on sectarian affiliation. This mentality cares little about whether its criminal positions will dismantle the country and kill whoever remains of its citizens. It is no wonder that some opposition representatives now speak about bloodshed so naturally.
These people are only waiting for a period of mess and comprehensive chaos during which they can impose their authority on whoever is still alive in Syria. They do not notice any contradiction between their criminal goals and the revolution that seeks freedom and equality — both before the law and on the ground — non-discrimination between Syrians under any circumstances, respect for citizens' lives and rights, and equal representation in the new public life after the overthrow of the regime.
In short, it has become necessary to rescue the revolution and restore its original identity, which belonged to a revolution that seeks to bring about freedom, a democratic system and national unity based on justice, equality, citizenship, dignity and the rule of law.
This raises serious questions that we have been avoiding during the past decade: Are those that seek to overthrow the regime truly revolutionary? Are they necessarily partners of the revolutionaries in their struggle, assuming that the revolution is a fight for freedom, dignity, justice and equality, rather than revenge, sectarian discrimination and senseless violence?
Is the fall or overthrow of the regime equivalent to the revolution, or could this simply be a step on a ladder that does not achieve the revolution's objectives and will not necessarily lead to them? If this is the case, what then is the revolution, which we considered for years to be a form of opposition to the regime and a means of toppling it?
I always used to say that between the people and the regime, there is a major conflict that we should never forget when undertaking public action. We should never ignore this conflict or try to minimize it. Today, I strongly believe that it is this disagreement with the regime that must be the basis of any promising revolutionary action worthy of its name.
But the question is, are the Islamists — who trade and drink blood — also on the same page? Do the politics match the revolutionary principles? The Islamic political and military forces are masters at setting traps that can ensure a wide gap between political action and the revolution. This has been evident ever since the establishment of that disastrous entity, which they falsely called the SNC.
The SNC focused most of its dangerous role on weakening, obliterating and getting rid of this conflict as soon as its Islamist members engaged themselves in a devastating conflict with the rest of the opposition parties.
This made them fight [these parties] more than they fight the regime, thus turning a supposedly secondary and marginal conflict into a major hostile conflict between the two political and revolutionary movements.
Subsequently, the [revolutionary] movement was cancelled, while the political movement only served to spark division, discrimination and conflict among Syrians, who took to the streets amidst the heat of the revolution, chanting with one voice: “The Syrian people are united.”
The Syrian revolutionaries dragged their allies — the foolish dervishes of the Damascus Declaration — onto their side. Their allies failed to learn their lesson from their experiences in Tunis, Egypt and Libya. Some of them have gone as far as to reprimand the “Syrian Democratic Platform (SDP),” for criticizing Islamists. They claimed that the SDP was threatening the revolution’s unity and serving the regime.
The Syrian people seem to have been oblivious to the major shift in the revolution’s course, which was caused by the practices of their allies, who have limited their efforts in overthrowing the regime. The Syrian revolution’s “allies” have used sectarian and exclusionary methods, which have only prolonged the life of the regime. This has only caused the regime to become increasingly coherent and unified.
On the other hand, the allies of the Syrian revolution fomented discord across the spectrum of the popular opposition, paving the way for horrific crimes.
This calls to mind an important question: should we continue to see this [violent] revolution as the only means to toppling the regime, placing the fate of Bashar al-Assad at the heart of our quest, and letting it define the identity of the revolutionaries? Or should we view the revolution in terms of its greater significance to our nation and the new Syrian society that will inevitably emerge following the fall of Assad?
The fact that Assad will fall is at least something the opposition has now agreed on. This is due to the fact that a range of analyses regarding military, political, regional and international developments confirm Assad’s imminent fall.
Today, before the downfall of the regime, it has become essential for us to correct the errors that have been committed over the past two years. Our protests, which started out peaceful, morphed into a bloody conflict under the regime’s criminal pressure and the efforts of the Islamists. It is very likely that we will be dragged into a deep pit of chaos, violence and civil war, and that serious efforts will be deployed to prevent any evolution toward democracy by stifling the voices of free, secular forces.
I believe that we are now moving towards the next level in our revolutionary journey, which was originally sparked by the protests in Daraa. At that time, we believed our actions would end with the downfall of the regime. The phase that could usher in a democratic and civil state is now close, but these aspirations already began to fade last year.
The coming phase might bring in a system that is a far cry from the dream of a democratic and civil state. However, it is our duty to be aware of the changes in light of this new phase, including the downfall of Assad. [But] Assad’s downfall will not necessarily be the end of tyranny, as we used to believe.
So, do we continue to perceive the fate of the revolution in terms of that of Assad? Or should we view it in terms of fighting against all the foes of freedom and revolution?
We ought to take the necessary steps and measures to regain our hijacked revolution, and to reinstate its authentic goals and integrity, which embraced all the social fabric of the Syrian people. Our revolution erupted to achieve unity and independence of the state. This, however, was not within the objectives of the foolish dervishes of the Damascus Declaration. This group failed to include a single woman in the recently-elected, ridiculously non-democratic National Council.
This prognosis ignores the “great news” published by a member of the council on their Facebook page, in which he declared that three seats would be allocated to women, who all look as if they have one foot in the grave. [This is not acceptable], especially given that women have played a crucial role in the revolution, only to be excluded from the “national” council by these ignorant politicians.
If it is true that the regime is taking its last breaths and will fall before long, we ought to take immediate actions and put an end to the Islamist policies that took over the national council, and introduced non-nationalistic and non-Syrian thrusts into our revolution. These kinds of policies introduced a dangerous, dogmatic ideology into the revolution, one that poses a great threat to Syrian society.
Our revolutionary quest today lies in the efforts to block the work of these forces and prevent them from spreading the culture of arms and implementing the long-term plans of the regime, which is to turn the revolution into a civil war!
Are we able to achieve this task, which we will have to struDaggle for on a daily basis?
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