Protests are back in Syria (have they ever disappeared?)

Two days ago, I was delighted to read this article published on prominent New York Times blog “The Lede” under the title of “Syrians protest Assad and Islamist militants”.

The infatigable Kafranbel people — a small village in North Syria which has become famous for its witty satirical anti Assad posters and slogans- made this gorgeous poster about the Syrian President and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) being two faces of the same coin.




But many other activists from different parts of Syria joined the protests against the new tyranny that ISIS is trying to impose in the so-called “liberated” areas.


(Tasqut Da3ysh means: “ISIS should fall”)

A great collection of pictures and videos from the anti-ISIS protests of 3 January 2014 can be found here.

In the last couple of days there has been a media hype about an alleged renewed vitality of the civil society movements in Syria (or at least of those who are not connected to Islamists and Islamic groups), as if they had disappeared from the country long time ago.

Well, the news is that they had never disappeared from the ground (although they had a very difficult time especially in the past year, many of its activists having been jailed or forced to leave the country); they had just disappeared from media coverage. There are very few media outlets in the English language which do constantly report about these civil society movements, such as Syria Untold – there is a weekly newsletter you can subscribe here if you wanna be updated on the latest news).

For many Syrians (I would say: the majority), the fact that extremist groups such as ISIS are the product of a well planned strategy by the Syrian regime is pretty well known.


Yesterday Michel Kilo, a Syrian Christian and prominent member of the opposition, wrote on the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat that

“None of the Syrian regime’s achievements matches its fabrication of the fundamentalist-terrorist groups that it pretends to fight and protect the Syrians from”.

To have a better understanding of this, I suggest you to read this article by Dr Mohammed Habash, a religious scholar and a former member of the Syrian parliament. The title speaks for itself: “Radicals are Assad`s best friends“.

Habash evokes the ties between Assad and Islamic movements long before the Syrian uprising: and everything goes back to Iraq 2003.
Reading this article, my memory goes back to when I moved to Damascus, in early 2007. At the time, it was common knowledge that Assad was sending fighters to Iraq. Everybody would talk about this quite openly, even at the bakery: this was sort of a legitimate action, since it was done “against US imperialism”. No mistery that Syrian regime was in touch with extremist groups and was using them for its own sake.
Even Syrian musalsalat are openly talking about this. I hope to be writing more about this topic in the future. Anyway, even mainstream TV entertainment is dealing with it. It looks like the only ones who did not know anything and now look surprised are Western media outlets, and I wonder if this is just a matter of not understanding Arabic or, rather, not wanting to understand and properly analyze the situation…



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