The transformations of the Syrian revolution
The Syrian uprising against the al-Assad regime is now entering its fourth year with seemingly no end in sight. In fact, the conflict is now spreading to neighbouring countries such as Iraq. Writer Faraj Bayrakdar gives us a bitter look at the rest of the world's lack of ability to understand what is actually at stake.
After the fall of the Tunisian president Zine Abidine Ben Ali, Mubarak said that Egypt is different from Tunisia, but he collapsed in a record time. The Gaddafi who liked to be called “king of Africa kings” said, the situation in Libya is different, he was right except he became a war criminal who did not shy away from bombing Libyan cities with Grad rockets, and eventually arrested in the sewer, putting an end to the mad tyrant.
Same sentence had been told by the Yemeni president as well as the heir Syrian president who ruled Syria resulting to turn it from republic system to monarchy system tacitly; honestly I would not have been against his rule if he had turned Syria to a monarchy system that respect its people.
Similar Arab dictatorship in line to face the Tsunami of revolutions that started in Tunisia.
Despite the similarity of the circumstances in the Arab countries in regard to the peoples and regimes, each revolution has its unique style.
What distinguish the Syrian revolution is that some kids of the city of Daraa are the ones that stoke the spark of the revolution.
Children that did not know fear neither accepted their parent's fear, they were not affected by past horror stories like the destruction of the city of Hama in 1982, when the city was pounded with tanks, artillery and aircraft, resulting in the death of more than twenty thousand people, in addition to tens of thousands of missing and detainees.
One night of March, 2011, Syrian authorities arrested a number of children in the city of Daraa, aged between 10 and 15 years, they wrote slogans on the walls of their city similar to those heard and seen on television in the demonstrations of Tunisia and Egypt, such as: The people want to overthrow the regime.
Their families tried to contact the security officers and officials in order to release their children, a delegation of notables of the city of Daraa went to meet with Atef Najib the head of the Political Security branch in their city, who is the cousin of the Syrian president, so he replied saying: Forget about your kids that are with me, and go to your wives to make other children, and if you are not men enough, my men are ready to do it for you. Therefore these notables went out humiliated and angry, intending to revenge their dignity.
A few days later, the kids were released to the discovery of everyone that they were all brutally tortured they had broken teeth and gouge nails, thus triggering the uprising in this city in a comprehensive manner, as the city youth started to demonstrate peacefully, followed by everyone in the city.
The authorities’ response to these demonstrations was by shooting live bullets that killed hundreds of demonstrators, making the demonstrations spread like wildfire over the entire area of Syria.
Syria was being ruled under a state of emergency for 48 years, which is equivalent to three life sentences in accordance with the laws of some European countries. It seems that the new generations in Syria has decided not to accept injustice any longer, nothing will pass silently like what happened with the massacre of Hama which the world passed silently in 1982, the new generations now know how to defend its future, and how to deal with the Internet, mobile and satellite channels.
Initially Syrian media claimed that there were third parties behind the demonstrations against the regime, supporting its claims by arresting an Egyptian activist and forcing him to confess to the official Syrian television for being an agent to third parties.
A few days later, the Syrian regime was forced to release him because this Egyptian citizen was also carrying the American citizenship when he arrived in Egypt he told his story about being forced to tell lies, exposing the tricks of the Syrian regime.
The Syrian media invented a new lie claiming that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his intelligence service are behind what is happening in Syria, after then changed the charge to Hariri's movement in Lebanon, they claimed that they support demonstrators with money and weapons, However, it was a short period of time before those lies collapsed. The regime claimed later that there are groups of Salafi Islamist militant firing on the demonstrators, the army and security forces; but in fact hundreds of photos and videos showed that those armed groups were security forces and special death squads loyal to the regime.
Today's global media has enough documents, numbers, names and videos that condemn the Syrian regime and its media. The latest of these documents are those leaked by a defectors officer in 2014 containing 55 thousand photos of 11 thousand detainees that died under torture, the United Nations has received those pictures and presented them to experts that confirmed they are genuine.
The Syrian regime got fed up with the constant demonstrations and their steady breath. The number of demonstrations including more than 500 thousands persons increased in Hama, Homs and Deir ez-Zor (please check below links to get an idea about the size of the demonstrations in Homs and Hama), and the lie of the president wining the referendum by nearly 98 percent has been exposed, so the regime decided to use all destructive forces including artillery, tanks, warplanes and helicopters throwing explosive barrels on most Syrians cities, resulting in the destruction of almost 60 percent of the city of Homs and almost the same percentage or slightly more of the city of Aleppo, it also destroyed several neighbourhoods in the city of Deir al-Zour, as well as Daraa, Hama, and some towns in the province of Damascus and Idlib.
Demonstrations remained peaceful during the first seven months of the revolution, but since the regime was killing any soldier refusing to shoot the demonstrators, thousands of officers and soldiers defected from the army and later established the free Syrian army (FSA). The free Syrian army has not received any real support in terms of equipments and funds, while the regime was receiving weapons, ammunition and money from many sources. Three years and world leaders keep saying that Assad's regime has lost legitimacy, but they didn't act in any way to curb violence or protect civilians, all what they did and still doing is turning a blind eye to the regime massacres. Three years and the international organizations are sending relief aids to the Syrian people through the regime which did not deliver them to the areas that are beyond its control. Recently the Security Council took a decision to enter aids to the affected areas without taking permission from the Assad regime, but the Russian veto is still up against arming the Free Syrian army with anti-aircraft to protect civilians from war planes attacks. The American administration refuses to provide any support to protect civilians from the aviation system under the pretext of fear such weapons will land in the hands of terrorists. But when the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant swept and occupied half the size of Iraq in a few days during the month of June 2014, and seized all the weapons of the Iraqi army (which are mostly American) the American administration lost its argument of not arming the Free Syrian army, and was not ashamed to announce support to the Iraqi government with seven thousand missiles (without fearing they will fall into the hands of terrorists), and did not hesitate to protect civilians and to send planes to bomb the sites of the Islamic state. As if the lack of international conscience pushes it to see the danger of an Islamic state in Iraq, but not its danger in Syria.
The lack of the international conscience and the repudiation of its responsibilities to protect civilians in Syria is what resulted in creating the conditions for growing terrorist groups, which the regime claims that the war is against, while in fact supporting them somehow, as it is known that the most dangerous leaders were prisoners in the regime prisons and were released at the beginning of the revolution.
Recently the American administration announced that the regime is not fighting the terrorists, and that the moderate opposition factions are fighting the forces of the Islamic State and the regime forces in the same time, this announcement was without incurring any supportive pragmatic attitude.
Until now many international views are not ashamed to claim that the Assad's regime is secular. They are ignoring Iran's support and they know that the Iranian regime is not secular, ignoring the support of Hezbollah which is a Shiite party that has nothing to do with secularism, as well as the case with the Brigade of Abu al Fadl al Abbas and the League of the Righteous, a militia of Iraqi Shiite fighting in Syria for the regime.
After the revolution entered its fourth year, and after documenting more than one hundred thousand dead civilian, the United Nations stopped counting the number of dead Syrians. But the latest statistics of documentation centres indicates that more than 170 thousand person died, including more than ten thousand women, and more than twelve thousand children, hundreds of thousands of detainees and missing persons, in addition to nearly ten million refugees and displaced people inside Syria and neighbouring countries.
Wondering what does the international conscience need and what is it waiting for in order to wake up and do its part in stopping this hell to which the Syrian population is exposed?
Faraj Bayrakdar (born 1951) is a prominent Syrian poet who has spent 14 years in the al-Assad regime's prisons.