North Africa, West Asia

The Syrian revolution - a view from above

Many factors contributed to the revolutionary framework, however, all the players were striving for power. The one aspect, uniting all the Syrian people, which is constantly rejuvenated, is the organic desire for freedom and justice in the framework of a real nation state. Translation: العربية 

Samer al-Qatrib
7 February 2014

The Syrian revolution was not a coincidence or an inheritance. The only thing we inherited in this revolution was its rationale. We saw a way to move from the monopoly of a single ruler to political and intellectual plurality.

The revolution over the past three years has changed in many ways; there is barely any resemblance between the current and early stages. Now, nothing separates the free body of the revolution from ideas; the people were thirsty for the revolution, it occupied their wildest ideas. The years of the revolution have changed life in Syria; exiles inside and outside the country trade blood for dreams of a better life, indeed, a profitable trade and a new form of slavery.

The conditions for an uprising existed but the revolutionary theory capable of withstanding painful effort without being exhausted, was missing. The social and economic structure established by the state was crumbling. Hence, a foundation was urgently needed to build a support base in preparation for the chaos both in theory and in practice that was likely to flood through the system and from the rebelling street.

Identity and belonging were readily offered up as part of a belief system, regardless of how far they were from reality. Many identities were woven by groups trying to patch up the mistakes made by government, while sometimes even attempting to justify them, ethically and politically. Zooming out on the revolution makes us understand the kind of speech adopted by the state. It is based on destroying the social structure, making it appear as one unit of conflicting groups and ethnicities. The state propagates itself as the only unifying power and the only guarantee of the existence of this unity.

However, the streets will contradict this speech. The inevitable revolution will result in crystallizing national identity as a thorough and necessary socio-political plan. This will demolish the old pillars of identity and control the fast rhythm of revolutionary action, which has been missing, historically, for a long time. 

Currently, new ideas are being born. Much of what we knew and lived with, with regard to values and principles, is crumbling. There is very little room for ideas and plenty of room for extremism. In order for us to be our new selves and to be what we aspire to be, we have the chocie: either live according to our own laws in an epic struggle for survival and rejuvenation, or stay as we are and keep what we have. 

Death is not a necessity in revolutions, however, it has become a tool used to invoke emotions and religiosity in us by many local and foreign powers which have invested in and profiteered from our open wounds. Death is not a prerequisite for a revolution to spread. If you zoom out on the revolution, it’s evident that the state used religious rhetoric prior to the revolution in order to exhaust Syrians and convince them that change was impossible. In this process, God becomes the sole comforter and saviour for whose help everybody awaits.

On the other hand, during the revolutionary process, Syrian nationalism was a critical front. The state deliberately distorted and dehumanized the people by describing them as terrorists and extremists. Furthermore, Islamist segments of the opposition used religion to fuel the revolution towards fulfilling their ambitions of power. This is how religion was used to justify the carrying of weapons. There had to be justification for this violence in the forced absence of national identity and political awareness. Thus, freedom as the demand and as an aim of existence, died out. Then, Jihad, with its foreignness to the real situation in Syria, took over.

Many factors entered the revolutionary framework; some were culturally familiar while others were alien, however, they were all striving for power. The one aspect, uniting all the Syrian people, which is constantly rejuvenated, is the organic desire for freedom and justice in the framework of a real national state. 

Thanks go to Reem Al-Kashif for this translation from Arabic.

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