What can we do to keep even more from being lost in Syria?

Human and civil rights need to be restored in Syria. To accomplish this, Bashar Al-Assad and his regime need to go. The regime’s replacements must be dignified, honest, just, and completely in contrast to the “leaders” Syria has seen in decades past. The destruction needs to end, and in its wake shall be a new era of Syrian history, a new body of Syrian pride that refuses to mirror any element of previous oppressive rules.

This much is clear. The sane and the rational agree on this end. But so many questions remain. What about the means? How do we get there? Is U.S intervention — historically problematic and guided by self-interest — the ultimate solution? Will Israeli air strikes on Syrian territory — an affront to Syria’s national autonomy regardless of what the targets may be — bring the end to within our reach? Should we just wait it out — death tolls climbing and all — and pray the opposition continues its slow but certain advance against regime strongholds?

And how about when we cover it, do we keep calling it a revolution or do we call it a civil war? Can it be both? At this point in time, considering the number of fallen civilians, of new refugees, of destroyed relics, is it both?

What about the crimes? The crimes. The ones Syrians wake up to on a daily basis. Do we neglect them if they were committed by the rebels for the sake of carrying forward the opposition’s momentum? Do we excuse them as a consequence of war? Do we compare them to the crimes committed by the regime and then move on? Or do we emphasize these documented instances of human rights abuses to hold the new leaders to a higher standard, one that the Assad regime cared nothing about?

These are a fraction of the questions many people ask themselves every day, myself in particular. We know what we want to see — a free Syria, of course — but we do not know how to get there. So we must willingly defer to the judgment of the Syrians we stand with, for this is an example of solidarity. To shift the power dynamic in favor of the victims in order to pull the plug on the oppressive Assad regime, we must play a supporting role. We must take direction from those directly involved.

Once again, this much is clear. But we are still left with unanswered questions, and so to fill the void, we develop theories and present hypotheticals. This is expected, and it is also expected that they range from the most informed to the least informed. Yet, another question is raised: Why are these the cause of so much division?

The situation in Syria is an especially interesting case because of how it has manifested here in the U.S., specifically but not exclusively in Chicago. I have yet to meet a regime loyalist or even a regime apologist. Maybe I am not looking well enough, or maybe the regime’s crimes make Assad entirely indefensible. Yes, the latter, I hope. But the rift is there, it is clear, and it grows wider. It has become a common thing to point at someone who believes in the same outcome — a restoration of rights, an end to the regime — and to characterize him or her as an Assad apologist. In many instances, the “with us or against us” paradigm has been taken to such a discouragingly awful degree that even those “with us” are alleged to really not be with us.

There is so much tension that it is tearing the fabric of our community apart. Solidarity has become politicized and rude. Non-Syrians are condescendingly told they don’t have the right to an opinion on Syria. Syrians are condescendingly told they shouldn’t have the right to an opinion on Syria if they keep adding to this mess. Everyone is a philosopher and expert political pundit on Syria and everyone is not. Some groups refuse to endorse certain rallies and campaigns. Others refuse to advertise their rallies and campaigns to select groups. It is intimidating to even approach the issue. Suspicion is rampant. People are afraid of being labeled or mischaracterized or misunderstood. There is little patience. It is understandable under such awful circumstances. But this is not solidarity and it is certainly not unity.

So much has already been lost in Syria. What can we do to keep even more from being lost?


There is one comment

  1. Pissed-off Syrian

    When non-Syrians use regime rhetoric to point out why the situation in Syria is “unwinnable” or why the US has vested interest in a certain outcome, and therefore everything that happens in Syria is “questionable” we will call them a regime apologists for good reason.

    When non-Syrians don’t do anything expect bad-mouth the opposition, armed, unarmed & expatriate, and make wildly inaccurate claims about what Syria was like before the revolution, and wildly inaccurate claims about the state of the revolution as it is now, all under the guise of “solidarity,” we will call them regime apologists for good reason.

    When non-Syrians continuously scoff at Syrians for asking “Where is the world?” and for pushing for any kind of aid from any source, we will not consider them allies, we will not consider them standing with us in solidarity.

    We don’t need snark, we don’t need to know why you are unable to give yourself to our cause, and frankly, to channel Rhett Butler, we don’t give a damn. Our people are being massacred en masse, our country destroyed by war planes and scuds, and all we’ve gotten from people “in solidarity with us” is skepticism towards the revolution, accusations of being working for America/Israel/Saudi/Qatar/Turkey/you name it, and outright rudeness. People we thought were in solidarity with us were quick to show their real colors once reports of America *potentially* arming the revolution came out. People we thought were in solidarity with us were quick to show their true colors once a video of Jabhat al-Nusra beheading shabiha came out. Yet those same people were silent on the countless massacres that have occurred, silent about shabiha slitting a baby’s throat and then castrating it, before finally burning it.

    These same people were silent about the vast majority of regime crimes, claiming “ignorance” of what was happening. These same people called our revolution sectarian, declared it dead, and started labeling what was happening a ‘sectarian civil war.’ These same people have adopted this bizarre stance of “I stand with the Syrian people but the armed opposition are just as bad as the regime” which betrays their complete ignorance and unwillingness to see what’s happening in Syria for what it really is.

    These people, when the strike from Israel came, seemed to be so pleased with the fact that Israel had bombed Syria and seemed to use it to say “See, we were right all along. This IS a zionist conspiracy.” When Syrians declared, “I don’t care that Israel bombed weapons bases on Qassyoun” people supposedly in solidarity with us came out in a tizzy, frothing at the mouth, claiming we were thanking Israel. Despite how many times we decried it, these accusation was still leveled at us.
    Our opposition, armed & unarmed, were accused of coordinating this attack on Syria with Israel, despite various declarations from the SOC, Muaz al Khatib, FSA, and Aleppo Revolutionary Military Council, to name a few, that blasted the regime and Israel for this attack.

    These people also do not hesitate to lecture from their place of privilege about what asking for U.S. intervention will look like. They say as a (insert Arab identity), I have felt the brunt of U.S. intervention through these ways and I cannot believe you Syrians are asking for this. These same people find issue with requests to arm the revolution, or raise money to arm the revolution. Yet, they are silent on Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, China, and Venezuela providing the regime with arms, money, and oil to sustain its military. Rather — we get criticized for that, or get told we are channeling American interests by voicing our anger and displeasure at these states.

    These people are quick to blame Turkey, the Gulf, the US for stoking sectarian tensions in Syria, but seem to forget the blatantly sectarian nature of shabiha. They seem to overlook the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in the Sahel region, and instead focus on the potential future of minorities in Syria. They look to one or two cases of sectarianism from an armed group, and use that to paint the entire future of Syria red, and say “This is why we can’t support the FSA” or “This is why we are wary of what’s happening in Syria” yet have no words when it comes to shabiha killing little children just for the sake of being the wrong sect, have no words when videos come out of Alawite generals talking about the “cleansing operation” happening in coast, have no words when videos of shabiha forcing protestors to blaspheme come out.

    How are we to consider those that are quick to think the absolute worst of our revolution, and to be skeptical about the worst of the regime, our friends, or standing in solidarity with us? Lecturing Syrians, and telling them how to resist, is not solidarity. Lecturing Syrians, and telling them that everything they are doing is wrong based on their myopian view that “everything America is against can’t be that bad” is not solidarity.

    We just asked for your fucking support, and you responded with gilded-shit.

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