Revolutionary Movement, Not Insane Bloodshed: A Response to Ibrahim al-Amin

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Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad wave the old Syria flag as they march through the streets on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha in Alsnmin near Daraa 6 November 2011. The banner reads, "People want the regime to step down". (Photo: REUTERS - Handout)

By: Salameh Kaileh

Published Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In his op-ed titled “Insane Bloodshed, Not Revolutionary Movement,” the friend Ibrahim al-Amin says that his article is not intended to “bestow legitimacy – either moral or political – on the crimes committed by the regime’s forces against its opponents.” Al-Amin resorts to generalizing the sectarian strife that took place in Homs in order to suggest that worse events will occur “if the situation is not contained.” He warns that Syria is approaching a state of “bloody chaos” and that the armed opposition “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.”

Al-Amin adds that “their actions have resulted in the forcible or voluntary cleansing of a number of neighborhoods and localities.” I do not wish to repeat what he wrote, for it helps create “a state of fear” of sectarian war and chaos, and thus transforms the uprising into a war of destruction on Syria. The regime employed this very same narrative, whose absurdity has been exposed, from the very beginning. But the recounting of the story by Al-Akhbar is what concerns me.

In a previous article, al-Amin said that he believes the majority of the Syrian population supports reform rather than revolution (as Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah indicated, in order to justify his support for the regime). Al-Amin continues by saying that the uprising is (or could be) “on the verge of civil or sectarian war.” He then recounts the same story that had already been dismissed because it was based on rumors, “marginal” practices, or because it was the handiwork of the state.

It is natural for the pundits not to be able to sense people’s reality, their problems, and the nature of their movement, for intellectuals float in a different sphere consisting of politics, strategy, governments, and statements. This renders leaks and rumors, in their opinions, as facts – something that can be detected in al-Amin’s latest article. Is there really chaos? I would say maybe, but what is the general nature of the movement, which al-Amin believes has become insane bloodshed?

I wish al-Amin could come to Syria to witness the mass presence of security forces and thugs in our cities and towns, so that he can realize that participating in protests is not a walk in the park. Therefore, we cannot judge the protests solely by their size. When protesting is countered by killing, protesters become heroes in every sense. The fact that Syrians are not protesting in their millions does not imply that they are anti-reform or that they support the regime. It indicates that the regime is using tremendous violence against the protesters. This has become a war by the state on the people. Under current circumstances, whoever protests in support of the regime does so, as we all know, under duress.

Participation in protests should not be underestimated in an attempt to portray the current situation as one of a civil war leading to the sectarian division of the country, and where conspirators are gaining control of the movement. There is no doubt that the regime’s use of violence indicates that it is well aware of what restraint would mean. This has made the use of bullets instead of sticks indispensable from day one.

The problem of those who are resisting change is that they are obsessed with conspiracy theory and sectarian conflict and division. Consequently, they tend to use any incident as a confirmation of their preconceived conclusions. This can be understood, but what drives al-Amin to use the same logic?

Al-Amin is well aware that the terrible economic situation led to the outbreak of the uprising. This situation cannot be deflected, unlike what some might think. What happened was not an organized act; it was extremely spontaneous, and thus no one can control it. The only thing that political forces can do is either assist or criticize the movement. Thus, all attempts by the regime to ignite sectarian conflict, particularly in Homs, have failed due to the efforts of the young rebels. All similar attempts will fail because the rebels are well aware that the struggle is against the regime.

Those rebels are the “marginalized and impoverished masses;” they are the ones in control of the movement, despite reports by the media or claims by some opposition figures. I was hoping that the regime would adhere to its agreement with the Arab League so that the situation would become clear, particularly on the issue of the size of the opposition. But, since the regime is already aware of the consequences, it did not, and will not, adhere to the agreement. It is well aware that the cessation of violence against the opposition – and the withdrawal of the army, security forces, and thugs – would result in millions of Syrians taking to the streets.

Syria is not approaching chaos or a sectarian war, despite all attempts; it is approaching change. Threats of a sectarian war and chaos previously had the effect of increasing the hesitation of those who were still weighing up whether to participate in the protests. Now that things are becoming clearer, they will no longer be afraid to join the uprising.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.


2/3rds of the criticisms toward the editor's article are criticism of things never stated explicitly or implicitly in the original assessment. It appears the author is battling ghosts and spin rather than offering any counter-argument other than "you are not here so you don't know." {Okay, if that is the case why believe you also because we are not there to confirm what you tell us we should believe. No thank you. No one dictates to me how to think about any issue.} Rather the author attempts to whitewash and ignore very legitimate concerns based on independent reports. Moreover, the editor never said that the movement was not driven by "rebels (that) are the “marginalized and impoverished masses;” they are the ones in control of the movement." I suggest the author read again carefully what was written. Just because there is some echo of the regime's narrative does not mean it should be rejected. Truth is truth. Your emotive response takes away from the credibility of the Revolution and you do yourself and your cause disservice. I have exerted my own little efforts in support of the Syrian Revolution but I will now cool that until I can see clearly a united and all-encompassing mandate from 99% of the population of Syria.

I admit that I am not an expert on Syria, but I have read the SAME arguments about Libya' "rebels". of course, the support for Syrian ones are provided from the same quarters as for Libyan - NATO, Saudis and so on. To shut one's eyes and pretend that this is not issue could be a strategy. But I would NEVER wish to Syria the fate of "liberated" Libya.

By the way, the Arab League is a tool of imperialism, so good luck (not) with their "solution". Saudis and Bahrain king are ordering Syria to turn to democracy?

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