Roots of Civil War in Syria |
Al Hayat - 31 May, 2012
Author: Abdullah Iskandar
The world awaited the massacre in Houla to condemn the horrendousness which has started to govern the confrontation in Syria. And because the world does not consider that killing in itself is horrific, whether it affects individuals or groups, and because it does not deem that this horror emerged with the first bullet fired by the Syrian governmental troops against the first peaceful demonstration in the country, it took the killing of more than a hundred people at the same time for the world to react and for statements of condemnation to be issued against the barbaric behavior of the regime’s troops in Damascus.
The world awaited the Houla massacre to start warning against the continuation of this governmental violence which will push the country toward civil war, at a time when some spoke about sectarian cleansing and the possible exploitation of this climate by Al-Qaeda to find a pied-à-terre in Syria. Nonetheless, the preliminary response of the Syrian authorities to the protests since their beginning was characterized by civil violence. This violence was then spread by the regime to expand throughout the country and flow across its border.
Today, with the arrival of the mission of international-Arab envoy Kofi Annan and the international position to a crossroads, and the collapse of the first clause in his plan, which calls for the discontinuation of the killing, the country will keep heading toward further civil violence. This clause was thwarted with a governmental will and in an intentional way, especially since the other party on the ground, i.e. the opposition with all its committees and types, seems unable to undertake any action in whichever direction.
This description, which is attributed to the opposition, is not due to its current political troubles and its structural impotence, but rather to the roots of its opposition project, even before the eruption of the protests. This description was not altered by the military dissent and the accession of a wide faction to the opposition’s action. Indeed, the opposition in all its forms, including the Muslim Brotherhood group, based its project on peaceful democratic change. All its formations thus issued documents and statements stressing this reality, which means that even before the eruption of the protests, they were wagering on dialogue with the authority to push it toward change. And this is what happened in the Spring of Damascus after President Bashar al-Assad succeeded to his father. The opposition failed to detect the roots of the project advocated by the authority when it nipped the Damascus spring in the bud, in parallel to a campaign of arrests and trials in form which affected the majority of those who rushed toward democratic change. In other words, and years before the eruption of the protests and all that accompanied them in terms of talk about armed groups, Salafis, agents to Gulf states, Turkey, the West and Al-Qaeda, and a conspiracy to undermine rejectionism, before all that, the Syrian regime acted as though it was targeted and as though it will face the reformatory demands rallying the popular majority – which is necessarily a sectarian majority based on the sectarian distribution of the population – by all means necessary.
It is likely that the regime in Syria perceives any serious reform affecting the institutions and political life as being synonym to the return of the sectarian majority to carry out active participation in power, and not just as a forefront controlled by the security apparatuses. This has become clearer since the Hama confrontations at the end of the seventies. It is also likely that this authority now believes it is facing two options, thus continuing to use power and oppression via the apparatuses affiliated with it – i.e. where the sectarian influence is concentrated – and when this option is weakened as it was seen since the beginning of the protests, it would confront the majority with all its strength and weapons. This was dubbed the security solution, which is in fact the option of civil war. The regime was thus willing to face a possible civil war even before the eruption of the protests, considering that it holds in itself the violence of civil wars.