The Friday of Denial

Every Friday in the revolution get’s a different name, this Friday is called “There’s no terrorism in Syria except Assad’s terrorism.” This came after the announcement a few days ago by 29 groups of activists and battalions to call it “No to American intervention, we are all Jabhat al-Nusra” which was followed up by some 70 more like minded groups. This again came in response to the US’ listing of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization, which it has announced to be working on before and which was bound to become the group’s fate after the UN resolution against their terrorist attack on the Saadallah al-Jabri square in Aleppo.

The reaction to the resolution had been mild compared to the backlash today. Shaykh Moaz al-Khatib called for the decision to be reviewed, the Muslim brotherhood rejected it, as did Col. al-Agedi of the FSA’s Military Council in Aleppo. It’s clear that US policy regarding Jabhat al-Nusra, has been counter productive and, together with its passive attitude towards the revolution, has only contributed to driving the Syrian people more and more towards this group. This is Binnish, Idlib:

The context of it explains this Friday’s name, but it doesn’t justify the denial that it carries with it. The Assad regime and after that its allies are the primary and main responsible parties for the terror, genocide and destruction unleashed upon Syria. They could be responsible for as much of 99% of it, but not all. It is an absolute fact that acts of terrorism have been committed by various extremist groups, and the only possible way this can be denied is to ascribe their terrorism and crimes to the regime, either by having a hand in it or by indirectly supporting it. This is what the response has been to nearly everything Jabhat al-Nusra had been doing before they integrated themselves more and more in the revolution by summer, but it hasn’t been the response ever since Saadallah Jabri and has instead only become more and more apologetic.

Anyone committing crimes and terrorism is responsible for the deeds he has chosen to commit. Anyone who has encouraged this, primarily the Assad regime itself as well as extremists around the world, is responsible after that. Then follow those who stood by and watched it all happen from a safe distance, which is the international community. The point that the opposition makes is that the Syrian people are victims in all of this, and they certainly are. The hypocrisy of it all is perfectly depicted by the brave and gifted people of Kafr Nabl, who have spoken out against all forms of injustice, in the top picture. A name that reflects this expression would have been excellent. But when the responsibility for causing it does not lie with those who suffer from it and simply try to survive, it doesn’t mean the responsibility for solving it doesn’t remain theirs nevertheless. Whoever is responsible for terrorism, it is up to the Syrian people to confront that and rid the country of it. Is that not what the entire revolution against the regime is about?

Today a point has been reached that nobody could imagine a year ago [itself nearly a year into the revolution], when Jabhat al-Nusra did not even exist. Today they are a force to be reckoned with, popular enough to have significant local support in some places, tolerated by most and cooperated with by some, and only bound to become stronger and more popular, if not an actual leader in this revolution. A small minority that it still is, it already competes with the FSA on various levels and is clearly no longer marginal.

But it has gone far beyond that, Jabhat al-Nusra alone is really yesterday’s discussion. Ahrar al-Sham, who have declared themselves to be Qaedist just like Jabhat al-Nusra [though they may arguably be less aware of what that actually means], is up next. Various other local independent battalions have joined as well, and there have been a lot of unification efforts amongst them in several places. Take the unified rejection of the coalition that took place in Aleppo, or the more recently formed Mujahiddin Shura Council in Deir al-Zor. And now we see a battalion which is seemingly part of the FSA and who has not joined the “Jihadi” movements, yet it adopted part of the ideology and practices it to extents unheard of before: Burning a Shia Mosque.

There is a point of no return, it is coming increasingly closer and denial will not make it go away. The choice is not between Assad and the revolution, Assad began to fall the day he declared war on his people. Today, most of the country is free from him and his regime except for their bombardments from the sky. The choice is between a free Syria and a Syria plagued by Assad’s heritage of sectarian hatred and extremist violence. There is no third option for this country, no minority will be able to rule it peacefully. Moreover, Assad has not yet fallen amongst his own supporters, and his achievement in creating the enemy of his wild dreams only further delays his fall. Bombs do not overthrow dictators, God does.

3 thoughts on “The Friday of Denial

  1. Iceman

    “The people is not good enough, so let’s change the people” ?

    It doesn’t work that way, Al-Nusra has proved that it is a legitimate part of this Revolution. We may like it or not, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the facts, these people arbitrary labeled as “terrorists” by the US (and apparently you agree with that decision even though you describe it as a strategic mistake) are on the frontline days after days, they sacrifice men and a great deal of ressources to reach their goals, one of them being to protect Sunnis from an oppressive dictator belonging to a community that can hardly be related to Islam.

    “Sectarian agenda” ? Maybe, but the blame lies on the Alawites who failed to show support to this Revolution while Sunnis were inviting them, calling them brothers. Sheikh Adnan Arour said that Alawites who join the Revolution should be rewarded twice, he even said that those who remain silent will be considered as neutral… Now it’s virtually impossible to make a distcinction between the regime and the whole community. Plus Al-Nusra has not yet targeted Alawites civilians indiscriminately and deliberately.

    To be fair, I must add that as a sympathizer of “militant Islam”, I was sceptical when Al-Nusra was created and even more after some controversial operations they did (i.e bombings causing civilans casulaties). But in the recent months, we have all seen how they shifted from their initial tactics to more conventional ones. Plus, as you’ve mentionned it, there is a real integration and cooperation effort coming from them. Now Al-Nusra carries out joint guerilla ops. with some of the most proeminent mainstream “Islamist” factions, which is a sign of co-optation and recognition of both Al-Nusra’s popular support and military effectiveness.

    There is no denial here, only people who realize who are their real allies, and who are the fake ones. I’m always amazed to see people who still seriously believe that the so-called international community has an interest in toppling Assad regime. Even Israel hasn’t.

    Beside, your blog is really well documented and well organized, I highly appreciate it, even though I do not agree with everything written.

    1. freehalab Post author

      That is the only way it works, it has proved to work this way and it is what Islam teaches as well: the people must change, they must repent for their sins, they must turn to God, they must better themselves, they must choose truth over falsehood and they must struggle for all of this. God helps those who help themselves. This is in essence what brought this revolution about and what kept it alive despite of Assad’s terror machine. Take those parents in Der`a, they did not accept their children to be arrested and tortured. Take the demonstrators, they called for their God given rights in lawful ways and raised the good word high. Take the defected soldiers refusing to follow orders to shoot innocents and turning against the murderers in order to protect lives. Take the villagers who raised their hunting rifles to protect their families. Take the neighbourhoods of Homs that rose up against the army invasion. Take the scholars who spoke out and guided the people to the truth. This is what the revolution is about and everyone who joined in on all levels did so seeking freedom, to protect peoples’ rights and their lives, and to end this regime because society cannot co-exist with it.

      Jabhat al-Nusra cannot prove to be a legitimate part of this revolution when it does not embrace it. Its ideology cannot embrace it, all it embraces is to overthrow the regime. The group is new but its ideology is not, and the efforts to overthrow the Assad regime for the disbelief it is accused of on the basis of its `Alawism, its Ba`athism and its lack of ruling by what is imagined to be the Shari`a was ongoing long before Bashar came to power. And now is Syria quite an extreme case, but the core of it applies to any other Muslim country in the world just as well, including Saudi Arabia. None of the governments in these countries are considered to be believers and all of them are to be violently overthrown. This is the world in which Jabhat al-Nusra was born, it is not just some Salafi or Islamist movement that happens to find itself in a war zone and therefore wages Jihad as may be true for many other groups. Jabhat al-Nusra did not and does not recognize the coalition, nor will it recognize the coalition transitional government to be formed, nor the elected government after that. Qaedist groups do not recognize other than themselves.

      Yes they fight and they sacrifice, and they would do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Dagestan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia Mali and wherever else there is a chance for their agenda to be pursued. Unless the Syrian people want to produce a leadership similar to the Taliban, or allow Jabhat al-Nusra to govern itself, it will not be their ally beyond the fall of the regime. The integration I mentioned is only with that part of the revolution that is open to their ideology for as far as it is aware of it, and cooperation has only been with those battalions who the same applies to. No mainstream faction, whether in the FSA or otherwise, works closely with them. How would it work when someone like Abu Furat wants to encourage defectors and save lives, while Jabhat al-Nusra wants to blow them all to pieces, or when he considers Alawites his brothers and friends while Jabhat al-Nusra came to slaughter them. Have you seen how they talk to the soldiers of the regime compared to how others talk to them? In the end, Jabhat al-Nusra and its actual allies remain a minority of the revolution, they integrated no further nor could they because Syrian society in general is not one to integrate with from their perspective. If they wouldn’t be fighting the regime, they would be fighting all the other Shrik and Kufr and Bid`a they envision. For them people do not only need to change, but need to change by force. Awareness of what their ideology actually entails is a major problem in the revolution, you mention Shaykh Ara`our but he’s not someone who they follow. They follow the likes of al-Maqdisi, al-Zawahiri, al-Fahd and so on.

      As for the Alawites, this entire reasoning is wrong and the claim that no difference can be made between the regime and the community is dangerous. Communities consist of civilians, including women and children. In Islam, wars are fought against active enemy combatants. The latest publication that’s been going around is Abu Ubayda’s “Do not Consult Anyone in Killing the Alawites.” The argument for intentionally targeting and killing women and children is not explicitly in it, but a reference to its justification has been made. This is the kind of religious views you’re dealing with here, not the brotherhood that may have been or the double rewards of al-Ara`our or other Salafi Shaykhs. You said yourself they didn’t target civilians indiscriminately and deliberately YET, although they have already done so as a known result of targeting regime forces. This too is extreme deviation. It does not matter that the regime incited sectarian warfare coming from the `Alawite community has dominated, Islam does not teach to respond to injustice with more injustice or to judge people by other than their own acts.

      In terms of their operations, their strategy does not always reflect their ideology. If any particular act has been committed without any regret, this only confirm the ideological approval for it. If they abandoned something this is only because it is more damaging to them than it does them good at that time. Take the destruction of graves, this happened once. Shooting at demonstrators, happened once as well. Blowing up a mosque, also happened once. Suicide car bombings have continued, in fact they have generally increased which is only natural as the group has grown stronger. It is this same growth that makes it much more of a fighting force as well. This is not because they have suddenly discovered the righteousness of conventional warfare. In fact, we have seen nothing yet. There is much more that this ideology deems permissible than what has occurred in Syria so far. You are understandably upset about civilian casualties, as we all should be, but this is acceptable to them and considered to be collateral damage if the people involved are considered Muslims to begin with. For non-Muslims, this isn’t even given a second thought.

      As for the US government and others, no government in the world is an ally to another people. It’s already quite something when governments are truly allies of their own people. So I don’t have this illusion, however I do believe it would be in everyone’s own interest to intervene. As for the terror listings, I’m not fond of any of those as they are political more than anything else. This doesn’t mean that such groups aren’t terrorists. However, all the Qaedist groups in the world put together did not do in the past two years what Assad has done, yet he’s only on lists for sanctions. It’s hypocritical and I did mention that. More importantly however, it has ruined everything. Not only did it cause this group to become three times more popular overnight, it also weakened the coalition and put them in an impossible position. I may not agree on how these things have been dealt with so far, but I can well understand that if it apparently was so hard to do something about it before it is only more difficult to do it now. The problem is that tomorrow it will even be more difficult. Passivity, apologetics and denial don’t come without a price, how high nobody knows, but no price having to be paid at all is like the claim that no terrorism other than Assad’s exists in Syria. We can stick our heads in the sands, but when Assad falls the charade is over and everyone’s cards will be on the table.

      Finally, thank you for your appreciation of the blog, I don’t mind disagreeing at all and the importance here is that dialogue is at least possible and can be constructive. With Jabhat al-Nusra, it won’t be possible unless they abandon the Qaedist ideology for something that will enable them to co-exist with others without infringing on their rights. If that would happen, it would be a first. Usually it’s the other way around, people change due to horror and tragedy and are mislead into joining, with either failure to overthrow the regime or anarchy as a result.

      PS: I wonder though, what if the PKK would have decided to join the fight against Assad and would have sought to lead in battles while openly proclaiming that after the fall a communist Kurdistan is to be established in Syria? If they make all the military gains, sacrifice, and perhaps even hold a bit back on the terrorist bombings, would you consider them a legitimate part of the revolution? They too are on the lists so at least there’s no difference there.


  2. Pingback: Salafis, Jihadis, and the Revolution in #Syria

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