The Making of an Armed Syrian Uprising

Haaretz and M&C report from Asharq al-Awsat that the Syrian Coordination Committees have decided to take up arms against the regime. I got both links from Dr. Landis’ blog, but haven’t seen the original report yet and don’t know if it’s authentic. I’m not sure how relevant this opposition group is either, but talks about this crucial subject have been increasing for the past few weeks. Important to note is that none of the scholars who have been outspoken and critical of the regime have supported such a call, but in fact vehemently warned against it. Considering the regime’s conduct, it is nevertheless something that can be naturally expected to occur sooner or later. In fact, it’s quite amazing how peaceful the opposition has been so far. The protests themselves have been very peaceful, at most some symbols of the regime have been damaged or destroyed and there may have been a few isolated cases of violence of varying degrees. The most serious clashes so far have been a number of instances in which officers that have defected and some of the locals defended neighbourhoods against military incursions in areas under siege.

The regime on the other hand has structurally been violent against not only peaceful protesters and activists, but also their relatives, friends, neighbours; even doctors doing their duty to help the wounded were targeted. In many areas, simply existing, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether on the street or even in the Mosque or at home was enough to become a target and face injury or even death. In the past six months as many as three thousand people have been killed, thousands more wounded, over twelve thousand unlawfully detained, many of which have been tortured or even killed, over ten thousand fled the country and thousands more are still missing. This aside of all the intimidation, threats and bullying taking place against dozens if not hundreds of people every day, and the massive damage to private property as well as looting. Finally, it is important to mention the attack on religion through violence against scholars and Imams, gravely damaging, desecrating and partly destroying Mosques, blasphemous graffiti and even forcing people into blasphemous deeds and utterances.

The purpose of this violence against civilians is not merely to suppress protests and force the masses into submission, as this can only be achieved for a short term. In order to crush the opposition completely, the regime needs to trigger an offensive, armed, sectarian, fundamentalist and terrorist response that divides the opposition and ‘allows’ the regime to respond mercilessly, going far beyond their current policy. One only needs to look at the events during the early eighties to see what the regime is capable of and in which circumstances. In order to get there, the regime is trying to ‘recreate’ those circumstances or at least the perception thereof. From the beginning the regime has blamed any violence against civilians on armed gangs working for a worldwide conspiracy, and attributed the deaths of over six hundred soldiers and various acts of sabotage to them. Its propaganda machine has worked tirelessly to provide footage and analysis to prove the reality of these circumstances. The more real they look or actually become, the more severe the regime’s response is likely to be. This has been the pattern so far. The regime seems to be well aware that no conceivable armed uprising will prove capable of overthrowing it on its own.

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