Sunday, April 28, 2013

The radicalisation of Syria's rebels

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

That is how the NY Times describes Syria's present situation. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

For Obama this seems to cause at least some hesitation to intensify his support.

However, the NYT analysis of the situation is rather weak. They describe the uprising as an uprising of the "Sunni Muslim majority". This is not only wrong - it comes straight from the rebel propaganda. The initial cores of the uprising were in conservative Sunni areas - mostly the same areas that had participated in the 1981 Muslim Brotherhood uprising and later had provided fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq. The uprising became broader when television preachers like Arour reframed it as an uprising of "the" Sunni against Alawite suppression and discrimination. Doing so they appealed to old prejudices about Alawites being not Muslims and second rate citizens.

The idea that you can build democracy on the basis of such undemocratic sentiments is ridiculous.

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