Kamal Al-Labwani

Kamal Al-Labwani
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Featured, Freedom of Expression, Human Rights, Political Reform, Syria



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One year has passed since the onset of the Syrian Revolution, caused by the accumulation of continued corruption and authoritarian rule for half a century and from additional instigation by the wave of revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. However, the revolution would not have erupted without two factors: the media and online social networking. This technology gave rise to a new form of alliance, assembly, and information sharing, which the security apparatus failed to prevent.

The Syrian Revolution began by tarnishing the Syrian people’s  respect for authority, gradually taking down the walls of fear with whispers, comments, and writings, later turning into chants and protests. The security apparatus practiced all forms of repression in attempts to restore the circle of fear with violence, arrests, and brutal incidences of torture and murder. However, this only ignited old tensions in Syria as if they had added gas to the fire. Widespread protests broke out, demanding change. Escalated levels of suppression and killings fueled major clashes between security forces and demonstrators, who were repeatedly beaten, detained, and tortured, while their homes were raided and vandalized.

Due to such violence from security forces, demonstrators took up arms in defense, deciding not to surrender to the authorities. The scene then evolved as the dissidents acted as guards to the protests. Whole areas began to gain full freedom from the regime’s authority, which called on the help of the army to organize counter raids to take revenge on the protesters.  Thus, confrontations broke out between armed youth and a combination of battalions of security forces, army personnel, and a third, unknown force.

This marked an important turning point in the Syrian revolution. With heavy attacks on armed youth, a number of soldiers had a change of conviction and began to defect from the security and armed forces to join the people. In unison, the defected soldiers and the armed youth were able to organize themselves more effectively and fight back with more power. In response, the government developed several models of security campaigns and eventually resorted to heavy weaponry and mass destruction maneuvers. Thus, the government turned into an occupation authority rather than a ruling authority.

Throughout the Syrian Revolution, different regions of the country experienced varying phases of revolt depending on the composition of their communities. While the regions were not always united, the patterns of revolution continued to expand horizontally and vertically among all sectors of Syrian society. As military forces became increasingly fragmented, with a large number of soldiers defecting, the authorities lost both power and military capacity and the very structure of the regime began to erode. Many soldiers are merely waiting for the right time and circumstances to resist the authorities and defect from the army. Thus, with nearly one million young soldiers ready to fight in all areas of the country, providing them with anti-armor weaponry and ammunition will result in a completely different equation. They will act with the added support and sympathy from every Syrian community, including expatriates from abroad who volunteered themselves to mobilize in solidarity.

The recent military victories in the liberated areas of Syria were due to the fact that the Free Syrian Army in those areas was denied access to proper weapons and ammunition, while the regime’s military utilized great quantities of heavy weaponry. Nevertheless, the regime has not managed to restore its power; rather, it continues to act as a repressive regime with an occupying army that consists of soldiers who act on blind faith and no sprit of enthusiasm.

Due to the oppressive security apparatus and the military, protesters were forced to adopt a different set of values to defy death and enable themselves to combat the violence and the use of ammunition against them. Some of the values were derived from religious customs, a trend that has now created an inconsistent mixture of beliefs and value systems among the opposition. Therefore, Syrian protestors are now at a crossroads between upholding the values of modernity, freedom, individual rights, democracy and liberalism on one hand and dealing with values of martyrdom, sacrifice, and religious principles on the other. This combination of beliefs is without a philosophical foundation and remains unresolved within mainstream culture.

Consequently, religious movements benefited from this environment and seized on the opportunity to name the protests as their own, while the minorities distanced themselves further from the movement they gradually felt alienated from. The well-organized religious movements, financed primarily from abroad, have been able to represent the revolution to the international community as well as within Syria. They paralyzed the liberal face of the Syrian National Council, taking them out of the equation. The religious movements also controlled the financing of relief efforts, the supply of weapons, and some of the armed battalions. They began buying loyalties from the armed groups in exchange for their support, while gradually ruling out other active actors from the scene.

Furthermore, the religious forces have continued to prepare themselves to assume exclusive power after the collapse of the state, monopolizing the revolution in which they had no original role, though they maintain the appearance of a civilian force. Thus, the revolution has been stolen and is no longer a catalyst towards a state of democracy and modernity. Instead, the future state of Syria will head towards a renewed form of despotism with a religious embodiment rather than secularism. This could lead to chaos and civil war should the new regime attempt to stay using forceful means of destruction and organized extermination as they perpetuate societal divides.

Hence, the urgent need has arisen to depart from this volatile scene. Immediate reforms are called upon to properly represent the revolution, its leadership, its slogans, and methods of support. These reforms are coupled with the insistence on the continuation of the revolution in line with its inherent cultural values, mandating the reproduction of religious values to reconcile them with the values ​​of modernity, freedoms, and democracy.

We, a group of non-partisan activists writing from within Syria, seek to properly reproduce the political representation in a balanced way that is in line with internal concerns through the establishment of a Transitional National Assembly (TNA). This assembly will adopt a constitutional declaration that will define the powers and functions of the opposition to organize them and determine the new identity of the state and its future system. We also seek to elect a General Secretariat of the Assembly to oversee the formation of a Government in Exile to represent the executive authority, which is responsible for organizing all local and external events abroad and is accountable and monitored by the Transitional National Assembly (TNA).

We submit this request to the Friends of Syria as a clear plan to bring down the current system by adopting an organized armed struggle that is national and non-partisan, with financial, logistical and political support of friends. We are also presenting a general plan for the interim period, including preparation to face the immediate concerns that will impose themselves on the morning of the fall of the regime in terms of constitutional, political, security, economic, and humanitarian issues.

In short, this is the status of the Syrian revolution after the passing of one year. We are all hopeful that the continuous pressure on the regime and the support of the opposition, which must reorganize itself and redevelop its means, can collectively overthrow the regime within this coming year, God willing.