Nobody is winning in Syria

Published — Sunday 20 April 2014

A series of recent interviews given by Syrian authorities to foreign journalists visiting Damascus at the invitation of the government, have given the erroneous impression that the forces of President Bashar Assad are winning the civil war, which entered its fourth year in March and has killed more than 150,000 Syrians.

This could not be further from the truth. This is a propaganda campaign to paint Assad and his acolytes as modern and secular saviors of a besieged and destroyed republic, in most part it should be noted by the regime itself with its heavy weaponry. In the jargon of the regime the rebels are constantly referred to as “terrorists,” an obvious attempt to denigrate and delegitimize them. That word is key. In all interviews with leaders of the Assad regime that I have read, they always refer to the rebels as terrorists of the 13th Century who want to take Syria back to the darkness of the Middle Ages.

The truth is much more nuanced: There are the secular rebels of the Free Syrian Army, while other rebels are moderate Muslims, and there are the extremists linked to Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately it is much easier for the western mind to cram all the rebels together and insult them all by calling them “medieval terrorists.”

But this was the strategy of the Assad regime from the beginning: To paint Bashar and his wife Asma as icons of modernity. “Look,” exclaim breathless articles about the most stylish couple of the Arab world, “she is so stylish and is not covered! And her husband likes to read electronic books!”

It is true that the regimes of the Assads (father and son) have been assiduously secular since the days of Bashar’s father Hafiz, who came to power through a coup in 1970. This is partly because the Assad family was never very religious. Syrian Christians, a minority in Sunni Muslim-majority country, have always been well protected by the Assads. This explains why most of the descendants of Syrians in Brazil, who are Christians and not Muslims, tend to support Assad and are silent about the indiscriminate killing by government forces. The barrel bombs used by the forces of the Assad regime have been especially brutal and indiscriminate in whom they kill and maim. Filled with explosives, nails and pieces of metal, these bombs are dropped from military helicopters flying low over residential areas. Used this way, the bombs kill every living thing in their extensive radius of destruction, be they civilian or rebel. A Syrian group, the Violations Documentation Center, estimates that 2,321 civilians have been killed by barrel bombs in Aleppo since the beginning of this air campaign in November 2013.

The economic cost of this civil war has also been devastating to Syria, with unemployment hitting 49 percent. Economic indicators show that it could take up to 30 years for the Syrian economy to fully recover and return to growth levels it had before the war, said Alex Pollack, director of microfinance in Relief and Works Agency UN.

Mercy Corps, an NGO that provides assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, estimates that half of the child population of Syria is not in school and that 7.9 million Syrians have fallen into poverty because of the economic collapse and that of this number of new poor, 4.4 million live in extreme poverty without being able to meet their own basic needs.

Syrian refugees have already reached 6.5 million, with at least a million of them in Lebanon. There they live in tents in squalid refugee camps, or try to pay rents reaching $ 200 a month in decrepit apartments rented to them by Lebanese owners who prey on their misery and despair.

It is regrettable that Russia has consistently protected the Assad regime at the UN Security Council with its veto of resolutions that would force Bashar to the negotiating table and his eventual renunciation of power. Since there is no willpower on the part of US President Barack Obama to use force against the Assad regime, we will sadly have to wait longer and witness more deaths of innocent Syrians before a solution is reached. In the meantime, it would be advisable if the officials of the Assad regime stopped calling the rebels terrorists. After all, they are all Syrians and the rebels are fighting to oust a corrupt and bloody dictatorship that has exploited Syria and Syrians for far too long.

– The writer is a Saudi journalist based in Brazil.


Categories: Arab World, Asia, Syria

5 replies

  1. Please do not delete my respond, if you love for all, none hatred, you should respect the different idea,thought, and beliefs, even against your beliefs. Right?


    Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered .Roman 13:1-2).

    Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority among you. (Surat an-Nisa, 4:59).
    HADITS; Listen and obey your authority, though he struck your back and take your wealth force .(Hr Muslim ).

    Those who plot evils (to topple the authority ), theirs will be severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish. QS 35;10.

    International communities should protect the right of religious minority in Syria. Religious Minorities of Syria has been fighting the rebels for years for their life of their children future from oppression of extremist Muslim and cause millions people suffering and died.

    Very sad, pity and heartbreaking, this nightmare is happening now in 21st Century.

    The best key of solution this RELIGIOUS conflict in Syria and Iraq is on the hand of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. If King Abdullah treats the religious Minorities in Saudi Arabia ( such as 2 million Muslim Shia, Christian and others ) FAIRLY, the permanent peace can be achieved successfully and less cost.

    King Abdullah will be a excellent peace maker in 21st Centuri, and his legacy will be remembered for ever.

    But if King Abdullah can not treat religious minority in Saudi Arabia, this religious war between extremist Sunni and Shia will not end, on contrary will spread to all Gulf States and Middle East. This is horrible, nightmare…

    May Allah guide King Abdullah to treat all people fairly and kindly who live in Saudi Arabia.Ameen

    With all my love.
    What ever we do, be done with love of God (Cor.16:13).
    If we love each other, we can achieve a big works for mankind
    but if hate each other, will be destroyed completely
    so let we love each other, Allah will bless us all

  2. Amusing = blend of thoughts = Right or Wrong?

    Here you chose to quote from “Hadith”; which you have labelled as “idols” in some of your other post.

  3. @ Shahid Pervaiz

    Let me clarify about idols.

    The book of Hadits Muslim and Bukhari contains ;

    1. The true Hadits, not against Al Quran.

    2. The violent Hadits or false Hadits, these hadits are against Al quran,

    3. The ancient Arab tradition Hadits. These hadits are not Syariah Islam, but Arab tradition. Arab people have to follows them if they want to.
    THese hadits will bring people to backward, the dark-age.
    If a Muslim scholar teach his student that the book of Hadits Muslim and Bukhari is holy book, beside Holy Al Quran, or on other word. What ever Muslim and Bukhari wrote in his book are true, or come from Prophet, and from Allah. and then Muslim follow what Hadits command to do blindly.

    Most Muslim around the world believe that way. Today, we can see the result of implementing the book of Hadits Muslim and Bukhari. Msulim kill Muslim Shia, Ahmadiyah, blasphemy, gay-lesbian, apostasy and infidel. Right?

    Do you agree that?

    We can refer to Hadits, or to other scholars, other books, if not against Al Quran. We should filter everything with Allah Books. Al Quran is holy Book. Allah has said in Al Quran, that Allah guaranteed the purity of Al Quran foe aver.

    Any question, well come.

    All love

  4. It is difficult to understand what you write. Perhaps you forget what you had written previously.

    One time, I can recall, you were unable to differentiate between a “tradition” and a “saying”.


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