Since March 2011, the Syrian people started something that appeared to most simply as mission impossible – to rise up against the dictatorial regime and its repression in general and against Bashar al-Assad in particular.
We, the out standers, still banned by the events around the Arab Spring movement, couldn’t really estimate the chances of success in the beginning due to the general lack of information about the country, its civil population and the murderous Baath ruler.
Hafez al-Assad had created a titanium curtain around the multi religious and poly-ethnic nation which covered the brutal crackdown in the city of Hama nearly thirty years ago without causing a global wave of indignation. Bashar who wasn’t originally first choice for the presidential seat inherited a system of total control, wherein he only had to manage the well-educated white and keep up the gigantic surveillance apparatus.
But the times have changed -drastically. With the help of modern digital technologies and social media tools Syrians are able to show the world what is happening on the ground, put their revolution on the web uploading daily dozens of mobile videos to document the crimes against humanity they are facing.
By tearing down their own ‘wall of fear’ what many Syrians told e describing the moment their inner button switched to ‘resist’ they became aware that this is the time to end the regime nightmare, its now or never.
While the world was focusing on the liberation of Libya from Gaddafi and other hot spots in the Middle East North Africa(MENA) region the Syrians sought to raise the affordable awareness for their freedom movement.
Protests outside Syria mostly organized by expats and dissidents began to increase as a sign of solidarity with their fellows on the ground daily risking their lives for a future in freedom, justice and dignity.
The daily killing of civilians nearly tripled from the beginning of the Ramadan last year when mainly on Fridays proceeding protests took place. In this crackdown most victims were women and children. Random gunfire and snipers positioned on rooftops became tragical normality, not only in Homs, the hotbed of the resistance, but elsewhere as well.
The reports and footage reached a disturbing level of cruelty: bodies of activists were returned to their families after all the organs were taken out. Tanks rolled over protesters. Many of the uploaded videos were hard to watch and some of the images left an in erasable branding on the viewers perception. But the most disgraceful crackdown measure was opening fire on mourners during the funerals of the martyrs.
It expressed how less the regime forces are caring about life and dignity, how dishonorable they deal with the population attacking them even in the moment requiring respect. ,Only in Syria, a tweet wrote, ,you go to the funeral of one who went on a funeral of one who
In the meantime the Syrian freedom movement reached the global perception so far that a handful of journalists have risked to enter undercover the country and report about the reality down on the ground.
This reality is a bitter, a brutal one: houses being shelled, inhabitants fled to the nearby woods and mountains, street crossings becoming death traps for every civilian, whole districts cut off from food supply, medical treatment for wounded protesters only being granted on secret places in private homes because of security forces surveillance the hospitals, listing all the crimes the regime‘s responsible for could probably take another ten months.
Unfortunately Syria has also become a toy boy of international politics. Instead of acting together as it is recommended according to the United Nations proclamation the global powers are still lamenting on different points of view. Europe and the United States are condemning the regime violence sending verbally strong signals and imposing economical sanctions, asset freezing and travel bans on Damascus officials.
Russian government is still supporting Assad demanding a dialogue between the regime and the opposition groups. The Arab League turned out to be a master of playing on time even topping the regime‘s slow motion bloodbath.
Taking an actual look on the players and positions:
The regime. Meanwhile unable to orchestrate so-called ,millions marches for their pale president the real number of the ‘menhebbakye’ (as the regime supporters are called) turns out not to be as huge as the state controlled media like SANA and Adounia TV want to make us believe.
Its hard core fanatics still feel they have legitimate right to control the land as they want. Their main arguments – armed gangs, sectarianism, civil war – sound more desperate and defiant than confident of victory.
Its allies. Besides Russian Primer Putin, Assad can rely mainly upon the Hezbollah and the neighbor regime of Ahmadinejad. Two loyal vassals willingly helping out with thugs, arms or even money. With the decline of the Syrian regime Nasrallah would lose his strongest backup. And the Iranian ruler is struggling himself a bit having in Khamenei a strong counterpart on his home terrain.
The army. Originally ordered to crackdown the freedom movement many divisions had to face huge amounts of defections. Soldiers who refused to shoot on unarmed protesters had mostly risked their own lives being shot from the regime loyalists in the back row. A very dirty trick to maintain the slavish obedience turning suddenly to a legshot because more and more from the first row soldiers rediscovered their conscience and their origin military oath: to protect the people and not to slaughter them.
The security apparatus. The biggest hunk. The number of the Syrian secret service branches varies between 13 and 17. Each level of the social, political and also military life is infiltrated by agents of the Mukhabarat. In comparison the former East German Staatssicherheit appears as moderate. Together with the Shabeeha, a kind of pro-regime militia, they form the backspin of systematical repression. To uncover all the different sections will be a major challenge for the post-Assad representatives.
The silent society. Still not sure to join the freedom movement because of doubts or concerns, the fear to lose their privileges or simply because of the brainwashing regime propaganda they are the crucial part of a common decision towards change. It will take continuing efforts of conviction building up trust and confidence the regime tries to shatter by organizing chaos and insecurity after its‘ toppling.
The political and military organized opposition. The Syrian National Council is seeking the international recognition as representative body of the Syrian people. Not the easiest job in the shark basin of diplomacy for Burhan Ghalioun and the other SNC members being some kind of political greenhorns in the eyes of some regulars. But the lack of routine is a hurdle the SNC is willing to take with the time by learning most of all from mistakes. We may not forget that a serious political opposition never existed in Assad‘s Syria. Therefore it is to appreciate that the Syrians have already entered the way to a political alternative in such a short time. On the other side the Free Syrian Army is organizing itself getting prepared for the moment they are strong enough to attack the regime army. If the defection rate increases in a similar speed like now they may be soon in a position to act. Presently the FSA soldiers are protecting and defending the areas raided by regime forces trying to prevent a bigger bloodbath especially in the districts of Homs and actually in and around Zabadani near the Lebanese border.
The protesters themselves. Hunted, beaten, detained, tortured, released, arrested again they embody even after ten months unbroken will. An example worth to mention are the Homsees. Counting up to now the most martyrs they are still couraged to the bones exposing an immense creativity during their rallies and being a thick thorn deep sticking in the regime‘s flesh. The Homsee chants and dakbes are legendary, for each protest new poems are written and they are accompanied amongst others by a strong frontwoman, the Alawi actress Fadwa Suleiman who‘s helping them to struggle against the regime myth of sectarianism. Unity is a key word in the freedom movement‘s dictionary. Over and over the regime tried to divide them but despite all the sacrifices the protesters continue to stand for their demands.
It is not easy to predict when exactly the regime will collapse. Still the powerful of the world aren’t united enough to isolate the dictatorship in Damascus in an effective manner. Sanctions need time to show the first countable achievements and are always endangered to become undermined. Still a delegation in orange vests led by a more than dubious Sudanese is exploring the country under strong surveillance of the regime. Still we are counting day by day the victims of the security forces‘ excessive violence. But that the regime will collapse is no longer a speculation. It is a fact due to the remarkable resilience of the Syrians to stand up and to resist until the deserved freedom is achieved.
And for that they deserve our respect.