The date March 14 has a special Syrian significance. The most famous is the Lebanese March 14 which made history for the birth an independent national movement corrupted by the movement of Syrian regime followers worried by the end of an existence of a semi occupation imposed by Syria on Lebanon. As for the Syrian March 14, it is the last day before the revolution erupted. It is the day the regime dreams it can go back to in order to restore how the situation was before the revolution. During two years, the regime only proved one thing that it is only concerned with power and not Syria. Therefore it did not treat its country like any enemy. It confronted it with its entire arsenal to avenge and to make it worse than how the cruelest of invaders made it.
For these two years, it never for one moment occurred for the regime figures that they could have been wrong or rather that they are actually wrong. They are not even frank with themselves, and they are certainly not frank among each other. They go further in lying and sinking in a lie they themselves invented. They are no longer concerned in anything other than drowning Syria and the Syrians in this lie.
Into the abyss
The revolution at the beginning was simple rather naive. But the bloodshed resorted to in order to extinguish it was exactly what awakened it. The people were soon to realize that they were climbing up a rock to bring the regime into the abyss. They know that if they get weak, tired or reluctant, this rock will roll down and crush them. And that is why there will be no retreat.
The regime has planted barricades and bases everywhere. Not for the lookout for the Israeli enemy which it has a conclusion of truce with. But to prepare for an inevitable war against the people. However all these plans that it spent decades making looks now like they are serving the rebels. Most of the rebels’ field achievements were accomplished by the gains they made from the regime’s warehouses.
Militarizing the revolution did not achieve its goal and it was a wrong estimation that such a move will finalize the situation for the regime’s interest. Now, the regime’s only request is that this country or that stop financing and arming the opposition...so it can exterminate it forgetting that there was no opposition with a name and that it was left for many months only being asked to stop killing and resorting to politics. On the contrary, it was for the sake of resuming murders that the regime taunted all mediations and stalled all Arab and international initiatives because it knows well that they will not maintain its authority and that they aspire to replace it with another.
There was no “conspiracy.” If there is, two orientations of it have been clarified. The first one is granting the regime all the time and opportunities to militarily finalize the revolution or conducting a political operation to rescue itself and embarrass the opposition whom their “friends” did not provide with plenty of options. The second one is that after the regime became stubborn, it is still granted all the time and opportunities to destroy cities and towns and push four to five million Syrians outside their homes or the country. As for the people’s resistance against the regime (including foreign support), it first began as a reaction to violence, then it transformed into self-defense and eventually became a real war where the regime is losing one position after the other.
Despite the regime’s brutality and distress, international parties persevered informing it that they think the only solution is political and that it must be part of this solution. The regime though only sees the solution as one supervised by it and reached under its ceiling. Therefore, it does not admit responsibility for the bloodshed, destruction and displacement of people.
The international administration was and is still an aide factor for the regime. The U.S. and Russia repel one another thru the media but they actually agree on what they want (Israel’s security which the Syrian regime was a real guarantor for) and what they do not want (the rise of jihadi movements linked to Al-Qaeda or cooperating with it). What recently changed is that the third party, Iran, which has been present since day one in the regime’s backstage has become a schemer partner effective in its decisions. It revealed the borders of the Russian influence. Based on that, the crisis has become on the verge of regionally exploding. It has become deeply linked to the Iraqi and Lebanese crises. On the other hand, the field activity of jihadists from Al-Nusra Front, Islamic Front and its division called “Ahrar al-Sham,” “Syrian Liberation Front” and the “Gathering of Ansar al-Islam” in Damascus and its countryside expanded. All of these groups as well as other similar ones benefited from Iraqi, Palestinian and other nationalities’ experience of training, military industry and operating vehicles.
In both cases, international parties realized the gravity of the mistakes they committed due to their lack of managing the crisis. These mistakes led to a situation full of impossibilities: military finalization, achieving a political solution, preserving the state and the army, protecting the minorities and maintaining the unity of people, and regional stability. Therefore also came the impossibility of keeping away any danger from Israel. All these results made it inevitable for the Americans to resort to the option of “moderate opposition” or “friendly opposition” in hopes of altering the formula and reaching the illusion of Bashar al-Assad’s “persuasion” that is his concessions regarding a “political solution.” However, they are too late. When Barack Obama was presented with the suggestion to arm the opposition or at least encourage “allied parties” to arm the opposition, the suggestion was based on a general study of the battlefield in Syria. However, he strongly opposed the suggestion giving room for the Russians to show what they can do with the regime. But the situation in the battlefield has changed now. The jihadi opposition fighters were the first ones to give up on international community so they depended on their own resources and trespassed the “Free Syrian Army” which for months cared about maintaining itself. The FSA however was very much harmed due to international marginalization. The recent activity to revive it and bet on it may place it in a confrontation with the jihadists. Therefore, FSA chief of staff brigadier general Salim Idriss was keen on being realistic when making his statement before the E.U. He admitted the dispute with “Al-Nusra Front” yet said he supported what it was achieving in field.
On the political level, although the international parties realize the facts of the inadequate structure the opposition was based upon, they did not come up with any useful plans to help the opposition organize and make use of its experiences. On the other hand, the opposition parties were not capable of uniting their efforts, reaching agreements and resolving their disputes, both inside and outside Syria, in accordance with a united agenda which priority is getting rid of the regime. In reality, the legendary dedication in steadfastness, resistance and sacrifice by the opposition inside Syria was not complemented with something similar by the opposition outside Syria. On the contrary, it was complemented with competition over positions and disputes among parties. This prevented the emergence of at least a temporarily recognized leadership. This also prevented a good employment for distributing tasks and roles. These defects obstructed and delayed uniting military councils although such a strategic move is gravely required. It is true that the coalition’s situation recently improved, but the current controversy regarding the establishment of an “interim government” or “executive body” revealed the fears of jurisdictions it must enjoy and the possibility of these jurisdictions becoming the new headline that the world deals with and so the coalition which concealed the council became concealed itself. In all cases, international parties are still afraid of activating the opposing “government” so it will not be a decisive step in undermining the political solution which based on the Geneva Accord must begin with a “government with complete jurisdictions” - an idea rejected by the Syrian president.
The mistakes of the regime, the opposition and the international parties benefitted one party. which in fact. is several parties that represent Salafi jihadist movements that have funding from various sources and political backgrounds. Although these parties are not united, they have displayed tangible combat effectiveness on the ground. They were also ahead of the opposition government as they established “legitimate commissions” in the liberated lands. They even stimulated the regime to instruct Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun to call for counter jihad for the sake of the regime or for the sake of covering what the regime’s sources say that “sweeping attacks” are being prepared to be launched through Iranian jihadists and their partisans.
Abdul Wahab Badrakhan is a Lebanese journalist, who writes weekly in London's Al-Hayat newspaper among other Arab publications. Badrakhan was a journalist in 'Annahar' (Beirut) until 1979, in 'Annahar Arabic & international' magazine (Paris) up to 1989, in 'Al-Hayat' (London) as managing editor then deputy editor in chief until 2006. At present, Badrakhan is working on two books. The first book is on the roots of the experiences that have motivated young Arab men to go to Afghanistan. The second is devoted to Arab policies to counterterrorism, starting with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and covering the ensuing wars.