Friday, 13 November 2015
Syrian activists are repairing the fabric of civil society, even as it comes undone
'The main impediment and biggest threat to civil society in Syria today is the indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime, especially the aerial onslaught with barrel bombs. It is no surprise that the Syrian regime wants to push these civil groups outside the country. The biggest threat to the regime today is from the progressive culture of political-truth telling embodied in newly empowered civil society. Only Syrian civil society offers a clear alternative to collapsing state institutions.
Syria’s most promising future could, without doubt, emerge from these grassroots initiatives, instated and reinstated by unwavering activists in the face of a multitude of challenges. If the liberated territories which saw the emergence of these groups were to be given total protection, with anti-aircraft defences, from Assad’s daily onslaught of barrel bombs, this base would start to flourish, refugees would return and an alternative order to that of Assad would quickly emerge. But, for now, the bombs continue to bury people under the fragments of their destroyed neighbourhoods. And if the world defiantly continues to insist that what is happening in Syria is too complex, too confusing, no one can blame the revolutionaries for this lack of clarity for they have obsessively documented every infringement on their basic rights in front of a largely apathetic audience.
We are tired of foreign commentators projecting tired and well worn assumptions onto the uprising—warning that any intervention by the international would encroach on Syria’s national sovereignty. We are tired of being warned that so-called political engineering by the west will achieve nothing beyond exacerbating sectarian and ethnic cleavages. The well-known risks of external political engineering must not lead us to dismiss the struggle of the Syrian people as pointless and doomed. It does these brave activists a great injustice to characterise their popular uprising as a scheme managed by imperialist forces. Syrian revolutionaries cannot afford to give up on what they started, even if they wanted to. If they give up they will be living on borrowed time, until the regime locates them and tortures or kills them. Syrian civil society is alive and well, and growing despite the most inauspicious conditions. It needs the support of the international community and an accompanying narrative which privileges civil activism over the militarised binary of ISIS and Assad.'