Friday, 23 December 2016
What will happen if the revolution is defeated
'The Syrian revolution, just like other Arab revolutions, began as a peaceful and popular uprising. No one within its ranks wanted to resort to arms. Syrians were forced to defend themselves and their loved ones by the failure of the world to deter the regime and stop its bloody persecution. The Syrian revolution turned into an armed confrontation only after many months of mass rallies in March 2011 and only after army officers and soldiers began dissenting and forming the first Free Army cells for the sake of protecting the popular movement. The revolution was not a civil war and this is not what the Syrian people wanted it to be. It was never meant to be one segment of the people mobilising against the other.
The revolution was, and it continued to be so for years, an expression of a big and wide popular movement aimed at building a new Syria, at regaining the freedom of the entire Syrian people and at establishing a democratic and just system. However, the revolution did become an armed national liberation movement and a civil war and the regime bears the primary responsibility for this. It vowed from the start to crush this popular movement with armed force and refused to meet the people half way. A meeting was held toward the end of March 2011 in the office of President Assad in Damascus. In that meeting, which was attended by a senior Hezbollah official in addition to Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, the Iraqi minister of national security and the President’s brother Maher al-Assad, Assad said: “We taught them a lesson at Hama that silenced them for 40 years and I shall teach them a lesson that will silence them for 100 years.”
Should the revolution be defeated and the status quo be accepted, the rule of the Assad regime will continue and the country will remain occupied by the foreign powers and militias. The Syrian majority will have to suffer under a regime that will be much more vicious and oppressive than it was before the revolution in the spring of 2011. The regime that perpetrated all these massacres will not commit to any genuine reforms. In other words, if the revolution stops, Syria will turn into a country of hell for the majority of Syrians, a hell that is more oppressive and much uglier than anything the Syrians witnessed over the past six years. The refugees will not return to their homes and Syria will witness an unprecedented sectarian demographic re-engineering process, something it has never before experienced. Even before the revolution came to an end, some circles within Hezbollah and inside Iran are already talking about the Shiite identity of Aleppo and about displacing the Sunni population from the west of Damascus to the Lebanese borders. Instability will not be confined to Arab countries but will also touch Turkey, which will find itself faced with a sectarian wall that will isolate it from its Arab neighbourhood in the south and with a Russian aerial siege that begins from the air bases in the south of Russia, the north of Georgia and the Crimean Peninsula all the way to the Russian control of the Syrian airspace.
Continuing the revolution is not therefore a futile act, nor is it fighting on for the sake of fighting. With some patience and steadfastness, this revolution can still win. In fact, it has been standing on the verge of winning. The regime is living through its weakest moments since the eruption of the revolution, whether in terms of its military and economic capabilities or in terms of its control over the country and its aptitude to express the sovereignty of the state. This regime exists in no more than one third of the country and in that third it shares control on the ground with Shiia militias that poured in from several countries in addition to Iranian and Russian units. Even with all the support it receives from its allies, the regime is incapable of fighting two major battles at the same time. Tadmur illustrates the actual military power of the regime. It is not true that the Afghan militias alone undertook to protect the existence of the regime in Tadmur because the city had within it Syrian regular troops and Russian units as well. According to Russian reports, as soon as IS began its onslaught on Tadmur, the commander of the region’s forces and most of his troops fled. As a result, the Russians needed to launch an air strikes campaign that lasted for several hours just to secure the withdrawal of their own troops.
Syria today is what Vietnam looked like in the early 1970s or Afghanistan in the mid-1980s. In both Vietnam and Afghanistan, the regime seized control of the country’s capital and ran a quasi-state and what may resemble state institutions. It spoke in the name of a small minority of the people and its existence was secured and protected by the presence of a massive foreign power. In both cases, there was no need for inflicting a decisive military defeat on the foreign forces; it was sufficient to exhaust them and make their presence unbearable, either as a result of the losses sustained continuously or as a result of the reaction of public opinion in their own countries. Unlike the situation in Syria, where revolutionary forces control vast stretches of land across the country, the resistance forces in those two cases were not able to secure their presence in tangible areas in South Vietnam and in Afghanistan until quite late in the war.
There is no ambiguity or confusion about the options of the Syrian people, even in the aftermath of the occupation of Aleppo: either return to the life of enslavement and fascist minority rule or continue the revolution until victory is achieved. Victory is not only possible; there should be no doubt whatsoever that it is inevitable. Yet, the first condition for achieving this victory is to rebuild the military arm of the revolution under the banner of the Free Syrian Army and the emergence of a united political leadership with a clear vision for the future of Syria and its people.'