Saturday, October 26, 2013
Should I really care if Abu Mohammad al Golani has been killed in a regime ambush? Probably not. The Syrian revolution isn’t about swapping an Alawite dictator for a Sunni one, it’s about fundamental rights for the citizen and for dignity. I’m not going to shed tears over somebody simply because he opposes Assad when his group openly calls for ethnic cleansing and has been accused of horrific human rights abuses. I’ve often heard Syrians telling me that they are “the only ones fighting Assad” and so we should turn a blind eye to their mistakes. I disagree.
Nobody asked for this war, Assad imposed it on the country in order to stay in power. The reason he did this was precisely for the kind of reaction that groups like JAN and ISIS are capable of. It is also to buttress his position internationally and domestically as some sort of champion for secularism. If we really think about it there are two things this regime has feared and avoided above all else, allowing peaceful demonstrations to take root in the country – coupled with a civil society movement – and foreign – specifically Western – intervention.
Both of these options seem a distant dream now, but if the killing is to stop, really stop, then we have to bring these back on the table. I don’t care who screeches to me about Iraq and imperialism, this is a matter of survival for an entire country. Assad and his allies are now presenting the world with two scenarios for Syria, and neither is acceptable. Either the country transforms into a version of North Korea, or it becomes Afghanistan. Both options would suit Iran, Hezbullah and Assad perfectly well for obvious reasons. But, and here is the important caveat, Iran, Hezbullah and Assad cannot impose their will on Syria. They’ve been trying to for almost three years and they can’t. That means a lot though it has come at a hell of a price.
Syrians can push for the third option, a country that respects the rights of its citizens and gives them the opportunity to try and make a better life for themselves. In order to do that they don’t have to feel compelled to clap and cheer for every madman who fires a Kalashnikov at the regime.