Have the five years changed the goals of the Syrian revolution?
Printed Edition ‖ Syria ‖ No.: 230
Enab Baladi – Idlib
The Syrian regime plays on separating the popular incubator off the Syrian revolution and its forces, taking advantage of the prolonged revolution and the bitterness Syrians have been experiencing over the last five years.
Intelligence agencies and official media focused on the attempt of detaching the incubator and occupying it in search for livelihood and safety, which forced them to thoroughly think of the reason behind their protests against the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.
In this report, Enab Baladi tries to discuss the effect of the regime’s policy on the areas that are out of his control, and study the change indicators in the speech directed to civilians and activists since March 2011.
“Arming” the revolution and theory of sabotage
Khaled Hamwi, a media activist, spoke to Enab Baladi about the methods used by Assad in transforming the revolution and its goals since the beginning, by promoting ideas such as, the rebels are actually saboteurs, infiltrations and Takfiris (also known as “excommunication and exodus”, those who judge and label somebody to be a kafir (non-Muslim infidel), as he describes them, saying that he sought through “security tyranny” to turn the peaceful revolution into an armed one, forcing people to carry arms in order to protect themselves, “and here the game began to draw the attention towards one idea, which is the rebels are armed with the aim of sabotaging the country and destabilizing it.”
The true beginning of “arming the revolution” was when some soldiers began to defect from the Syrian Armed Forces, thus the regime began to categorize areas according to his control over them, so that Syria became divided into areas under his control, and others ‘liberated’, controlled by the opposition.
After the regime lost control over some areas, the regime directed his tanks and warplanes to those areas, targeting the residential neighborhoods predominantly, the thing that created a rational point of view, according to Hamwi, who questions, in the mouthpiece of civilians, “are we now being shelled and killed because of the presence of armed men in our areas, whom, once they leave, shelling and killing would stop?” The activist believes this matter to have affected the popular incubator of the revolution, which began to gradually decrease and was represented by the residents’ demands for the armed rebels to leave some areas, as he put it.
Movements’ split and an absence of a real representative of the revolution
Some activists attribute the reason behind Assad’s success in achieving some of his goals to the absence of an actual representative of the revolution forces, besides to the multiple parties that drowned the Syrian arena, in addition to outsiders and their supporters, and they say that each party supported the people they agree with in tendencies and opinion; some of them try to establish an “Islamic State”, others support democracy, while others aspire a secular state, and despite the fact that some revolution forces were committed to war against the Syrian regime, yet they did not have a clear vision of where things are heading in the future.
All of the above mentioned caused a case of dispersion and loss for Syrians, and a confusion in determining the correct way, considering that each party gives charming and bombast speeches that attract the minds to where you want, without achieving anything on land.
Human rights and relief activist, Moataz Abu Adnan, of the city of Hama, living in its northern countryside, believes that the effect these trends left is “normal when you find the popular incubator drifting away from the revolution, considering that each party has a certain project, and seeks to sabotage the other party’s project”, believing that civilians at the moment do not care about what happens among factions, “they do not care about any of the suggested goals, other than that they want to live safely and get what they need before everything else.”
“The tyranny experienced by the Syrian people over 40 years was enough to create a generation that finds it hard to choose a path to go through and offer sacrifices”, says Abu Adnan, pointing that the problems taking place among the different revolutionary trends on land “put the popular incubator in a difficult position to choose a representative to carry the cause, not to mention the political dispersion of the Syrian reality of fighting, as each movement follows a certain State.”
Abu Adnan adds that “the bitter truth” lies in the absence of a true representative of the people, asserting that “there is no actual party that aspires to the people’s interest, without seeking their own interests and keeping in mind their interests. Therefore, it is normal to find people busy trying to provide their needs, without paying attention to what is happening in reality, driven by the idea of that who provides me with food and drink is the one who represents me.”
Fighting with “a living”
Assad not only did the above, he further played on ‘making their living’; according to Hamwi, he started preventing the basic materials off the residents of areas out of his control, in addition to “bringing them to the knees” by cutting off water, electricity and communications, at which point, residents began to get fidget in light of a “miserable” situation, adding “I believe that this reason made a lot of people rethink their choices, some of them really regretted this revolution.”
The Syrian regime resorted to besieging some Syrian cities, such as Madaya, Zabadani, Daraya and Modamiyet As-Sham in the countryside of Damascus, using a policy of starvation and kneeling, the thing that caused a crack to a limited extent regarding the necessity of having a truce with the regime in order to get food and cease the besiege.
However, according to the human rights activist, if we look at the case from a different angle, then the war in Syria is, as some consider, between right and wrong. The regime won’t stop shelling the areas out of his control, whether these areas contained gunmen or not, while others believe that even if the regime enters these areas, he will crush them, using the policy of killing, destroying and robbery, the thing that actually happened in many Syrian areas, and the city of Homs might be the best example of that.
Abu Adnan did not confine what he mentioned as the sole impact on the revolution’s goals, rather he talked about reasons regarding poverty and unemployment that affected all different sections of Syrian people, “those who used to previously store some money for emergencies, have consumed all he had. Large numbers of Syrians, especially young ones, became jobless, not to mention the high prices, which drifted many people away from the revolution, in search for providing a living”, adding “I know many who had to quit fighting and head to civil work in order to provide their families’ needs and life requirements.”
Abu Adnan pointed out that “some fighters in the opposition ranks, especially the factions that provide higher salaries than others, joined the fight motivated by the need to provide a living, rather than the motivation of revolution, fighting and protecting their people. In return, you cannot be unfair to everyone, since it is considered a proportion; you cannot fight unless you provide a living for your family and kids.”
The lengthy time and the emergence of new regulations
Although, at the beginning, some rebels expected the revolution to be of a short term, comparing it to its likes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, however, activists and analysts agree that Assad has prepared himself to war, thus, overthrowing the regime requires a lot of work and effort.
The prolonged period produced dozens of factions and names, according to Sara Al-Najjar, a history teacher that fled the city of Hama to the countryside of Idlib, considered the emergence of parties in the Syrian conflict, such as the “Islamic State” organization, had a huge negative impact on the revolution, believing that it ripped off large areas from the revolution and opened new fighting fronts against the Syrian people.
Al-Najjar described the conducts of the organization as the “real sedition”, pointing that “their adoption of the cause of Islam, as they claim, motivated a lot of people to get drifted in their path, since the Syrian people are Muslims after all, even though their true nature was revealed after a short while of their emergence and sweep of the Syrian land.”
The history teacher pointed to other groups that emerged in the Syrian arena, including the “Democratic Syria” forces, whom she believes “almost fight alongside the regime’s ranks, while many others spoil the revolution’s reputation, the thing that had Syrian people get fed up with the situation.”
All these reasons were sufficient to put the Syrian people in a confusion state, as well as the absence of a clear goal, according to many activists and civilians whom were interviewed by Enab Baladi, who think that status quo is inclined towards wishes of some sectors of the society to put an end to this war, despite their consistent stand of Assad’s regime, while many others insist till now on the victory of the revolution, hoping for a soon radical transformation that would achieve what they have originally went out calling for, represented in the statement “People want to overthrow the regime”.