One year has passed since I wrote this article Syria, Peace and Christmas, https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/syria-peace-and-christmas/.
On the substance of this article, I have nothing new to say… I will nevertheless repeat them because it is more important than ever to stay firm on the principles of the revolution, which is facing numerous threats…
But before this, it is first necessary to remind everyone the catastrophic humanitarian situation of the Syrian people.
A Humanitarian catastrophe
The humanitarian situation of the great majority of the Syrian people has only gotten worse… More than 126 000 have been killed since the beginning of the revolutionary process in March 2011.
Syria has been presented by the UN as the greatest humanitarian challenge the institution has to face: Syria represents the population with the most important need of humanitarian aid, followed by Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Some 4.1 million Syrians will be living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt by the end of 2014, according to the UN in the case the situation stays the current way, up from an estimated 2.4 million today, according to the latest estimate.
In addition to this, half of the 23 million people in Syria are living in “food insecurity,” according to the World Food Program (WFP), which has announced plans to feed more than 7 million displaced persons and refugees.
The price of bread has increased by over 500 % in the last two years in Syria, according to a study by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The terrible situation should nevertheless not blind us on its underlying reasons and it should not be treated only as humanitarian case without someone responsible for it: this situation is the direct consequence of the Assad regime and its war against the Syrian people struggling for a new and democratic Syria.
The savagery of the Assad regime
The savagery of the Syrian regime has not stopped, despite the various (propagandist) red lines violated by the Assad army, security services, and shabihas… Multiple examples can show the continuous savagery of the regime:
– the continuous bombings for more than two weeks now of the Assad planes on the neighborhoods of Aleppo liberated from its control. More than 300 people, including 87 children and almost all civilians, have been killed since December 14 by the airstrikes. Barrel bomb attacks in Aleppo has hit residential and shopping areas.
– The continuous siege on Homs, for more than year, and on several other areas throughout Syria. For example the siege imposed on the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camps for weeks now. Children of the camps demonstrated on December 24 2013 to demand the end of the siege and for bread (see : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQxIHqg4bZc)…
The Assad army, with the assistance of Hezbollah and Iraqi sectarian groups, are trying to gain a maximum of ground and successes before the Geneva II so called peace conference on January 22 to impose even more conditions…
Just like last year, the Geneva II conference has the same objective: reach a political solution and agreement between the regime and a section of the bourgeois and opportunist opposition in order to put an end to the Syrian revolution and maintain the structure of the Assad regime, with or without Assad.
Regional and international actors, despite differences and rivalries, are ready to agree and share a common position in front the threat of the Syrian popular revolution to the regimes of the region and Israel (for more info see: https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/dynamics-and-prospects-for-the-syrian-revolutionary-process/)
Lately, Western government have indicated to some sections of the Syrian opposition that peace talks in January may not lead to the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, because he and his regime would be the best actor to struggle against the jihadists. This is forgetting that it was Assad that freed islamists and jihadists from its prisons few months after the beginning of the revolution. In addition to this, both Assad and Jihadists are to be struggled because both feed themselves of their reactionary and exclusive ideology.
To these prospects, the Syrian revolutionary people have already shown on numerous occasions their opposition to any agreement that would prevent any radical change. This writing of Kafranbel from December 20 2013 is just another example:
Enemies inside the revolution
In the same time, the enemies to the objectives of the revolution inside of it have developed on the field. They are represented by the Jihadists currents, such as Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al Nusra, and Islamist groups such as the ones gathered in the Islamic Front, which is supported by Gulf reactionary regimes and want to establish an Islamic State (for more info see: https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/dynamics-and-prospects-for-the-syrian-revolutionary-process/).
The reactionary nature of the ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra is not anymore to prove… They have attacked and kidnapped revolutionaries, journalists, and citizens. They have imposed their own culture of censorship and intimidation.
In Aleppo province alone, more than 15 journalists and media activists have been kidnapped without any leads on their fate until now. Wael Ibrahim, Moayad Salloum, Abdul-Wahab al-Mullah, Isaac Mokhtar, Samir Kassab and many others were kidnapped not by the regime, but in the opposition-held areas. In most cases, there is a lack of clear evidence to identify the perpetrators. Most activists, however, accuse the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), pointing out that the kidnappings began with the rise in the number of its fighters in the north of Syria. And the majority of Aleppo’s kidnapped media activists are known for criticizing the al-Qaida affiliate and its brutal tactics.
For example the famous Abdul-Wahab al-Mullah, who gained local fame for “A Three-Star Revolution” — a television program that did not shy away from criticizing the province’s various fighting factions, was kidnapped from his home in the Masaken Hanano district. Mullah was kidnapped just weeks after the formation of a new Journalists’ Union in Aleppo. He was a member of its Preparatory Committee. The goal of the Union was to put an end to the kidnappings and killings being perpetrated against media activists and journalists in the province. Many journalists here saw Mullah’s kidnapping as a direct threat to all local media. (see article Syrian Journalists Face Abduction, Oppression from All Sides ; http://beta.syriadeeply.org/2013/12/syrian-journalists-face-abduction-oppression-sides/#.UrmaSxYcj4d)
On the case of the Islamic Front, I will not expand too much, but some have tried to portray it as democratic because considered less worse than the Jihadists currents, which is true. But does this kind of analysis leads us to characterize therefore Islamic front as democratic? No…
I would like to remind that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend… This mistake was made by the same people in the past that characterized in the beginning Jabhat al Nusra as honest fighters struggling for the Syrian revolution… They changed their position on Jabhat al Nusra since then…
Today some say the Islamic Front is democratic because they are fighting in some regions against the regime and they are not jihadists, which are both true. The democratic nature of the Islamic Front is therefore reached regardless of their ideology (demanding an Islamic State based on a reactionary interpretation of Islam with specific rights for minorities, therefore no equal citizenship, which is a basic democratic right, just as equality between men and women, etc…), regardless of their direct contacts, links and funds with Gulf reactionary regimes, (which is different than with FSA that was demanding a democratic State and has no real international and regional support until today, except on a propagandist level) and regardless of their attacks on different occasions against FSA troops and civil activists, without talking about the implications of some of the groups included in the Islamic in sectarian war crimes like the Latakia province incidents documented by Human Rights Watch. They use a sectarian discourse against Alawites and Shias, Zahran Alloush is the military chief of the Islamic Front calls in this video for the cleansing Damascus of all Shiites and Nusayris. (“Nusayris” is the old term that referred to the Alawites prior to the adoption of “Alawite.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIFrWG9PQTc). These elements can not be undermined.
Our position is well resumed in this placard of the women from the coordination committee of the city of Salamieh:
The kidnappers of Leila Awad ( Syrian actress arrested by the regime for demanding the release of political prisonners) = the kidnappers of Razan Zeitounah, Samira Khalil
This does not mean that we don’t make differences between Islamic Front and jihadists, or the Islamic Front and the regime, as explained in past articles, we do. This is nevertheless not a reason to characterize groups with reactionary ideology as democratic, on the simple argument that they are less worse than other groups and that we fight the same enemy.
These various elements and threats have nevertheless not stopped the Syrian people of resisting and struggling for the principles of the revolution of democracy and social justice, as shown by this placard made by supporters and revolutionaries of Syrian revolution :
Indeed the Syrian revolution is not dead but very much alive…
As written on this wall in Saraqeb: Resist or you will be defeated
No other option is given to the Syrian people…
Peace, or what peace?
I would like to repeat my understanding of peace, only modified to include new events:
My idea of peace is not the one imagined by some, just a return of the period before the revolution or a cosmetic change on the surface of the regime.
Indeed there was no true peace before the beginning of the revolution in Syria in March 2011, but there was only the illusion of peace. Why? Because the Syrian regime since the arrival of Hafez al Assad in 1970 to power has launched a permanent war against the Syrian people : harsh repression against any attempts to practice basic democratic rights ; policies to divide the people of Syria through sectarian and ethnic lines ; and impoverishment of the majority of the Syrian people through corruption and, but above all, accelerated neo liberal policies implemented by Bashar al Assad and plunging 60% of the Syrian population under or just above the poverty line.
How can one imagine this was peace…
No peace can be achieved without the fall of this regime. Indeed no peace can be achieved through the Geneva II so called “peace conference”, which wants to maintain intact the structure of the regime and prevents any radical change as demanded by the Syrian revolutionary people.
Inside our revolution, the necessity to condemn, and if necessary fight, all groups, whether secular or religious, acting against the principle of the revolution: democracy, social justice and secularism (understood as guaranteeing and respecting religious beliefs and practices and treating everyone equally without any form of discriminations, Christians and Muslims, Women and Men, Arabs and Kurds, etc….).
As reminded by Syrian revolutionary from Zabadani: “The era of freedom against the bread is finished, we want the two together ”
If these conditions are not fulfilled, the graphiti on this wall in Syria says it all: « We cannot stop, our revolution is continuous…
In the same time, we must be clear : the fall of the regime will definitely be a great victory and achievement for the Syrian people, but we cannot hide that this will not be the end of the Syrian revolutionary process. Indeed the only way to tackle poverty, unequal social and economic redistribution, sectarianism (spread by the regime for decades and used by some opposition groups, especially jihadists and ilamists), end to all discrimination and recognition of full equality between women and men, between religious and ethnic communities, with the support to the self determination of the Kurdish people, will be to continue the revolution led by and for the interests of the Syrian revolutionary masses.
And for all who fear the future, let’s work and struggle together to build a new Syria, because this regime does not protect anyone or any minority, but protects only the sections of the population submitting to its interests regardless of their community. No Human need a corrupt, authoritarian and oppressive regime to protect anyone, and especially not the people of Syria! The only protection we need is a Democratic, Secular, independent and a Social State, which respects the basic rights of the people to live in dignity and freedom.
In Conclusion, all I really want, once again, for Christmas is peace for Syria and the Syrian people, but peace will only be achieved with the fall of the Assad regime and the clear opposition and defeat of the islamists and jihadist groups; and the building of a democratic, secular social and truly independent Syria in solidarity with other’s people struggle, especially the Palestinian people because our freedom is linked to their freedom.
All my thoughts are for the Syrian people, family, friends, comrades, and above all for all the martyrs, refugees, internal dispplaced etc… Peace in this perspective means permanent revolution and victory for the Syrian people.
Viva a Free Syria!