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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Dark


Why arming rebels will fuel Syria’s inferno

Aleppo is the main industrial hub in Syria, is a microcosm of Syria, and Aleppo is dying

The Syrian conflict is taking another dramatic turn as the militant jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, rout rebels from their strongholds in Idlib.

These extremist factions are threatening to eliminate entirely any presence by moderate rebels in northern Syria, as the Islamic State has already done in the east.

SummaryPrint Arming Syria’s rebels is a dangerous move that will only result in prolonging the war and potentially empowering extremists.
Edward Dark Posted November 6, 2014

The focus is now turning to Aleppo, where rebels are making their last stand against both the encroaching forces of the regime and the jihadists. (Over 300,000 are besieged and trapped in east-north Aleppo)

Will they be left to face their fate alone as in Idlib, or will someone come to their rescue? If yes, who and how?

If the French and Turks have their way, they might yet be saved, but at present it appears that the United States has finally given up on its former rebel allies, writing them off completely.

So in Aleppo, people are buzzing with questions and seeking answers. This once-vibrant metropolis has been reduced to little more than a sad, distorted shadow of its former beauty and glory.

Cold, rubble-strewn streets crisscross the deserted and largely devastated neighborhoods of its rebel-held east, while daylight hours in its regime-held west bring the hectic bustle of a battered and weary population desperately trying to go about daily life and survive.

The night brings darkness and solitude to both, but no comfort or respite, as their hapless inhabitants hunker down, shivering from the cold and in fear of the constant sound of gunfire, shelling and explosions.

Life in this city is terrible and has been for more than two years now, ever since the civil war that tore apart the Syrian nation dropped anchor and rudely barged into my hometown. Since then, my city has been a place of constant war and destruction, which its inhabitants struggle to survive amid abject misery and suffering.

Its collapsed economy and infrastructure mean that even the most essential necessities are scarce or beyond the reach of most people. The specter of death constantly hovers above their heads forebodingly, ready to whisk them or their loved ones away at a moment’s notice.

Aleppo is a microcosm of Syria. The suffering here is just as real and horrible as it is everywhere else. It does not distinguish friend from foe or regime loyalist from opposition supporter. It affects us all.

Ironically, this shared suffering might be the only thing that unites Syrians now, but I believe they are also united by an urgent desire to stop the suffering and end the war and killing that is causing it. We are no longer interested in who was to blame or even who gets to crown his glorious victory on a throne made from the debris of our broken cities and mortared with the blood and broken skulls of our children.

Our desires, however, run contrary to the wishes of the powers that hold all the cards in our country’s civil war. Our voices fall on deaf ears in what is the ultimate paradox of attempting to bring about peace by promoting more violence and war, or so it would appear if the eternal refrain of a “peacefully negotiated political settlement” is to be taken at face value.

Those who justify the continuation of our death and suffering either do so on the premise of liberating our lives from tyranny or on the premise of protecting it from extremism. Both are lies, of course, but they do have one truth in common as we jokingly note here: They all want to “liberate” our lives from this earthly world.

This cause will certainly not be helped by arming the “moderate” rebels with no clear strategy for the day after or how to plausibly bring this conflict to an end. All it will do is indefinitely prolong the war and our suffering. It would be a rehashing of previous strategies that not only failed to achieved their objectives, but spectacularly backfired.

The Western- and Gulf-backed umbrella opposition group in Istanbul is a disorderly mess that has no credibility or actual influence in Syria, as the rebels who were meant to provide that power on the ground are now a spent force. They stalled in their push to topple the regime in mid-2012, when they had the best chance.

Worst of all, they failed miserably at providing even a semblance of stability or civil rule to the areas under their control, allowing instead a degeneration into infighting between organized crime syndicates that parasitically fed off their own people and created power vacuums waiting to be filled by shrewd and opportunistic extremists.

This, coupled with the desperation of seeing their lives and homes devastated by the regime’s air force, missiles and barrel bombs drove many Syrians toward radicalization and into the hands of those extremists who offered a better deal, spiritually as well as on the battlefield.

Since then, the rebels have been superseded by the more effective and more disciplined militant jihadists and driven back by the forces of a resurgent regime heavily backed by its powerful allies on the battlefield and off it.

Unless one can fix the serious, inherent flaws of the opposition and rebels, then arming them would not only be counterproductive, but also potentially very dangerous, as many of them have been taking their weapons and defecting to jihadist groups. Arming the rebels is de facto arming the extremists, period.

Resurrecting a strategy that spectacularly failed in the past and expecting it to work this time around shows a striking inability to grasp basic concepts or smacks of desperation and confusion, which is bad news for the millions of Syrians whose lives are directly affected by such decisions.

The demise of the moderate Syrian rebels will see the influence of the West and Turkey in Syria’s civil war greatly dwindle, which is why they are loath to see them go. This loss has been a work in progress as the Islamists’ power and influence have grown. They are on two sides of a seesaw, a problem that the Gulf states of Qatar and Saudi do not have, as they have been busy financing and supporting some of these Islamists groups for some time.

The machinations of the many actors and their proxies in my country ensured that its people would never see the freedom they were tantalizingly promised. Instead, they got a cynical war driven by others’ malevolent interests. Someone brought Pandora’s box to Syria and opened it.

No wonder they are struggling to put the demons back inside; the monsters they have unleashed are now coming for them.

It appears there might finally be a faint glimmer of hope, as a bit of sanity calling for change has resulted in tentative, broad backing for moves toward localized cease-fires and a “freezing” of the conflict, news that will be welcomed by the vast majority of Syrians. Until then, however, we are stuck in limbo, waiting for our nightmare to end. In the meantime, please don’t make our plight even more unbearable.

Don’t throw more fuel at the inferno consuming us 10 dozen souls at a time. Don’t arm the rebels.

Read more:

Has The Syrian Revolution lost it cause? Supported by all these absolute monarchies and colonial powers?

What went wrong with the initially valid causes for the Syrian uprising? Where did insurgents go wrong? How did a once inspirational and noble popular uprising calling for freedom and basic human rights degenerate into an orgy of bloodthirsty sectarian violence, with depravity unfit for even animals?

Was it inevitable and wholly unavoidable, or did it not have to be this way?

I posted more than two dozen articles on the Syria and the current upheaval, and it is refreshing to read Edward Dark‘s article.

Edward Dark, a pseudonym for a Syrian currently residing in Aleppo, posted for Al-Monitor on May 28.

The simple answer to the above question is the miscalculation (or was it planned?) of Syrians taking up arms against their regime, a ruthless military dictatorship, held together by nepotism and clan and sectarian loyalties for 40 years of absolute power.

Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford specifically warned about this in his infamous visit to Hama in the summer of 2011, just as the city was in the grip of massive anti-regime protests and before it was stormed by the Syrian army. That warning fell on deaf ears, whether by design or accident, and we have only ourselves to blame.

Western and global inaction or not, we are solely responsible for our broken nation at the end of the day.

Nietzsche once said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” (The same is true when your objective is the end goal and you totally neglect how to treat people in the process…)

That has proved to be very prophetic in the Syrian scenario.  Away from all the agendas, whitewashing, propaganda, and outright lies of the global media stations, what we saw on the ground when the rebel fighters entered Aleppo was a far different reality. It hit home hard. It was a shock, especially to those of us who had supported and believed in the uprising all along. It was the ultimate betrayal.

To us, a rebel fighting against tyranny doesn’t commit the same sort of crimes as the regime he’s supposed to be fighting against.

The revolutionary rebel doesn’t loot the homes, businesses and communities of the people he’s supposed to be fighting for.

Yet, as the weeks went by in Aleppo, it became increasingly clear that this was exactly what was happening.

Rebels would systematically loot the neighborhoods they entered. They had very little regard for the lives and property of the people, and would even kidnap for ransom and execute anyone they pleased with little recourse to any form of judicial process.

The Syrian rebels would deliberately vandalize and destroy ancient and historical landmarks and icons of the city.

They would strip factories and industrial zones bare, even down to the electrical wiring, hauling their loot of expensive industrial machinery and infrastructure off across the border to Turkey to be sold at a fraction of its price. Shopping malls were emptied, warehouses, too.

They stole the grain in storage silos, creating a crisis and a sharp rise in staple food costs.

They would incessantly shell residential civilian neighborhoods under regime control with mortars, rocket fire and car bombs, causing death and injury to countless innocent people, their snipers routinely killing in cold blood unsuspecting passersby. As a consequence, tens of thousands became destitute and homeless in this once bustling, thriving and rich commercial metropolis.

But why was this so? Why were they doing it?

It became apparent soon enough, that it was simply a case of us versus them. They were the underprivileged rural class who took up arms and stormed the city, and they were out for revenge against the perceived injustices of years past.

The motivation of this rebel wasn’t like ours, it was not to seek freedom, democracy or justice for the entire nation, it was simply unbridled hatred and vengeance for themselves.

Extremist and sectarian in nature, they made no secret that they thought us city folk in Aleppo, all of us, regime stooges and sympathizers, and that our lives and property were forfeit as far as they were concerned.

Rebel profiteer warlords soon became household names, their penchant for looting and spreading terror among the populace inducing far more bitterness and bile than what was felt against the regime and its forces.

Add to that terrible fray, the extremist Islamists and their open association with Al-Qaeda (Takfiriyeen) and their horrific plans for the future of our nation, and you can guess what the atmosphere over here felt like: a stifling primordial fear, a mixture of terror and despair.

So who was “us,” and why did we feel that we were any different or better?

By “us” I mean, and at the risk of sounding rather elitist, the civil grassroots opposition movement in Aleppo, who for months were organizing peaceful protests and handing out aid at considerable danger and risk to our own lives.

“We” truly believed in the higher ideals of social and political change, and tried to emulate them.

We tried to model ourselves on the civil rights movement of the US in the 1960s, Mandela’s struggle against apartheid, and the teachings of Gandhi: precisely what similar civil movements in other Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt had done before.

For “us,” a revolution was a slow, deliberate and committed struggle for change.

Like water drops repeatedly beating down on a boulder, eventually we would break it.

But for “them,” (particularly the foreign takfir mercenaries), their idea of change was throwing a ton of TNT at that boulder and having it, and everything around it, blown to smithereens. “We,” well, we mostly came from the educated urban middle class of the city.

We came from all walks of life, all sects and all areas, and we didn’t care.

We never asked where that guy or girl was from or what they worshiped. Each one of us gave and contributed what we could, in the capacity we could.

The leader of our group was a young Christian lawyer, a very active and dedicated young woman. The rest of the volunteers in our group were a microcosm of Syrian society; veiled girls, Shiite boys, rich kids and poor working class all working together for ideals we strongly shared and believed in.

Over the course of our activist work, some of our group were jailed and injured, one was killed. That is why it never hit home so hard, and never have I felt as sad as when, shortly after Aleppo was raided by the rebels, I received messages from some of those people I used to work with. One said, “How could we have been so stupid? We were betrayed!” and another said, “Tell your children someday that we once had a beautiful country, but we destroyed it because of our ignorance and hatred.”

It was around about that time that I gave up on the revolution, such as it had become, and saw that the only way to Syria’s salvation was through reconciliation and a renunciation of violence. Many felt this way, too.

Unfortunately, that is not a view shared by the warmongers and power brokers who still think that more Syrian blood should be spilled to appease the insatiable appetites of their sordid aspirations.

Even as activists, intellectuals, businessmen, doctors and skilled professionals fled the city in droves, others remained and still tried to organize civil action in the form of providing aid and relief work to the countless thousands of families that were now internally displaced inside their own city in desperate conditions. But it was clear that it was becoming futile. Everything had changed; it would never be the same again.

This is what it has come down to in Syria:

It’s us versus them everywhere you go. Opposition versus regime, secular versus Islamist, Sunni versus Shiite, peaceful versus armed, city versus rural, and in all of that cacophony the voice of reason is sure to be drowned out. Whatever is left of Syria at the end will be carved out between the wolves and vultures that fought over its bleeding and dying corpse, leaving us, the Syrian people to pick up the shattered pieces of our nation and our futures.

Do we have recourse to blame anyone but ourselves for this? Was this our destiny, or the cruel machinations of evil men?

Perhaps a future generation of Syrians will be able to answer that question.

Edward Dark tweets at @edwardedark.




December 2022

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