Insane Bloodshed, Not Revolutionary Movement

Anti-government protesters pray next to the bodies of people who were killed on Wednesday, in Hula near Homs 2 November 2011. (Photo: REUTERS)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The images of death brought to us from Homs, Idlib and Hama no longer consist of footage posted on the internet of protesters attacked or shot by the security forces. They now feature killings of a sectarian and confessional nature. The human rights groups that have been monitoring the daily tally of deaths, injuries, and arrests in Syria confirm that this is a growing trend. It is also evident from the names on the casualty lists. The news media vary in their reporting of these tensions. But horrific accounts have emerged, and Syria could face an even more horrific future if they are not addressed.

Last week, the Local Coordinating Committees called for demonstrations to be held on Friday and stressed that they should be peaceful. The Committees have issued such calls weekly ever since they were formed. But the emphasis they placed this time on the peaceful nature of the rallies was telling. It betrayed the organizers’ fear that the protest movement as a whole could become infected with the violence that has begun to characterize it in several parts of the country. This violence is not of the kind associated with a conflict between two or more parties with known identities and aims. It is the kind of violence that leads to bloody chaos in which some want Syria to drown – chaos that the world and the region know very well, particularly the Iraqis and Lebanese.

Over the next couple of weeks, all eyes will be on developments in Syria following the understanding reached between the government and the Arab League on an initiative aimed at fundamentally resolving the crisis. But there are important players who have a different agenda. These can no longer be regarded as small groups that spontaneously took up arms in response to the killing and detention of protesters by the regime. They have acquired the capacity to organize, select their targets, choose who to kill, and carry out their threats – unnoticed by the Arab satellite TV news channels.

These groups could be described as being engaged in ‘nation-destroying.’ Their actions have resulted in the forcible or voluntary cleansing of a number of neighborhoods and localities. They seek to sow divisions along sectarian and confessional lines – between those who see themselves as the core of a revolution to bring down the regime, and others accused of defending it. Reports from Syria tell of children from one denomination being expelled or excluded from their schools in localities which have become ‘pure’ in sectarian terms; of groups of people fleeing from one part of the country to another out of fear of bloody sectarian revenge; of civilian buses carrying inter-city travellers or government employees being ambushed, and the passengers either freed or killed depending on what sect they belong to. The killings have been particularly savage, recalling medieval practices, or the images which the takfiris in Iraq tried to implant in the public consciousness a few years ago.

The situation appears to be beyond the capacity of any of the parties concerned – including the regime – to decisively contain or control. All the evidence indicates that the operations mounted by the army and security forces have been fuelling these tensions. People are divided about the regime’s actions. Its opponents see the members of the army and security forces as enemies to be overcome, and they define those foes in terms of their sectarian or regional affiliation rather political loyalty.

As nobody is in a position to propose practical ways of overcoming this, the debate on what needs to be done keeps reverting back to square one. Many are adamant that the regime alone is to blame, and not just for bringing about this deterioration. They charge that these armed groups are actually controlled by the regime and its agencies. They argue that the regime is intent on creating sectarian strife as a way of prolonging its hold on power. But people find this reasoning unconvincing. Many groups have withdrawn from the protest movement, fearing a drift toward civil and sectarian war that would destroy the country they seek to reform.

A different impression may be conveyed by the mainstream Arab media, which are overwhelmingly controlled by the Syrian regime’s enemies and serve as the propaganda outlets for their intelligence agencies. The fact remains that the bloody spectacle on the ground, and the stories circulating among people close to the scene, have led to a heightening of inter-communal tensions. They have also convinced many that the mass movement which began in Syria several months ago has taken an ominous turn. It can no longer be described as peaceful, legitimate, or independent. By no means, however, does that bestow legitimacy – either moral or political – on the crimes committed by the regime’s forces against its opponents.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Thanks, ya Ibrahim. It's nice that we can have our own edition of Tishrin here in Lebanon. Al-Akhbar's coverage of Syria has been disgraceful. I might as well turn on NBN or, better yet, Syrian state TV. It's a shame that Al-Akhbar is willing to destroy its reputation as the best newspaper in Lebanon in order to defend Hizb al-Ba'ath.

Thoughtful well-informed analysis that makes me from vantage point of London think that the mainstream British media is not conveying the full complexity of the Syrian situation.

How did the situation get this bad? Protests started peaceful and turned violent when it became clear that the regime was going to continue to respond violently.

I think a fair reading of this article and it's assessment without emotional "self-input" and trying to make extrapolations will allow the reader to view this assessment in a correct light. The emotional responses are quite understandable.
But this is an article of journalism and analysis and not propaganda for the regime neither is it a sweeping endorsement for the revolution. A realistic assessment and also if one takes into account what has been reported by Nir Rosen and the lady who just spent two weeks in Syria making the PBS Frontline special report also offer evidence among other reports that support the author's assessment, it is an assessment based on credible accounts and observations. Members of the revolution would do well not to cast stones (nor eggs) at anyone and try to interpret any report or opinion that is not a sweeping endorsement of the revolution. It is exactly this mentality and tendency to see everything as black and white and expectation that the world will concur that does great damage to revolution and even mirrors the rhetoric of the regime. You will have to show yourselves to be morally superior to the regime and not indulge in the same kind of autocratic, "us" versus "them" thinking if you want the Revolution to succeed.

Media in Spain (where I live) are giving us information focusing all responsability in Al Assad's goverment. Yesterday I watched a report in the evening news in a catalan channel with extremely hard words to that government and the army. I thought that things are more complex and this article has helped me a lot in that way. Thanks.

Who are you trying to fool, editor-in-chief?

Members of the police and army have been the targets of armed attacks since day one, back in March, in Dara'a.

"....recalling medieval practices, or the images which the takfiris in Iraq tried to implant in the public consciousness a few years ago,..." is a flawed analogy Mr. Al-Amin is trying to advance to his readers in order to confuse them about the real conflict in Syria and to distort the heavy scarifies of the brave Syrian people. The barbaric images in video clips rendered from his Assads's SHABIHA [gangsters] are abounding. Why invoke an Iraqi analogy while his friends in the regime have plenty of crimes and atrocities to brag about!

Douri of Southern Lebanon

Quality analysis and information.
Thank you.

so what ur saying is.. bashar was right about the armed gangs??

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