The New York Times published an article demonstrating what Syrian civil society is capable off. The leading question thereby is: Is the rift between Assad supporters and opposition activists’ irreconcilable?
The article traces back the story of the 17-year old Abu Rami who was a supporter of Bashar Al-Assad and “killed countless times for the Assad government.”
His motive for joining the paramilitary unit “shabiha” was for revenge as his friend was killed by rebels. For his jobs, he is paid 215$ a month. “A confirmed kill earned a bonus of 2,000 pounds.” Not to forget, the Shabiha militia is considered as an agent of the State, having committed crimes against humanity.
Abu Rami then came to reconsider his role, when his older brother convinced him to take part in the workshop of the B.S.S, an abbreviation for the organization “Building the Syrian State”. This organization was founded by Louay Hussein and tries to remove Assad by political and not military means. The aim of the workshop is to bring together people from different views and engaging with them in open discussions on citizenship. Workshops are run by approximately 25 social activists.
In the end Abu Rami, whose brothers are comprised of an army officer and a B.S.S activist, joined the group in order to support these activities. In his own words, Abu Rami claims: “They won’t stop fighting until their last breath.” But “the life of a person isn’t worth the cost to buy a bullet,” he added. “I ended up tired of killing.”
Arguing that it is important for outsiders to look at “how, why and when opposition groups in civil war engage in civilian governance”, Shelley Deane on OpenDemocracy points to the overlooked factor of civilians who are caught within the struggle.
She outlines the shifting of the Syrian conflict from a peaceful revolution to a violent “civil war”, concentrating on the struggle over resources, sectarianism and economic insecurity. Concluding, Deane highlights how the local councils are a “counter-state”. Understanding why Syrians in civil war engage in civil governance is an important aspect and provides insight into the motives of the opposition. Therefore outsiders who wish to engage in Syria must recognize and acknowledge their role to understand the current situation in Syria.
Meanwhile ‘the Guardian’ interprets the attack on Syria’s prime minister Wael al-Halki in two different ways. Al-Halki was the victim of an attempted killing by a car bomb in the Mezzeh district of Damascus which is a severely controlled district by the regime. On the one hand, the attack can be seen as a demonstration of strength by the opposition. Thereby, it shows how close they can get to the regime. On the other hand, it is very possible that this attack is staged by the regime itself to “fuel international fears about the rise of extremism in Syria.” Indeed, it is suspicious that right after the attack, ambulances, helicopters and state TV rushed to the area. From past attacks, one knows that this is what happens when the Regime is involved in attacks.
In the Kurdish areas, a deeper rift between Kurdish parties is becoming evident. As ‘ARA news’ reports, Ibrahim Bero, leader of the Yekiti party, claims that the PYD (believed to be closely linked to the PKK in Turkey) legitimizes itself by imposing its will on certain areas. In numerous efforts to hold negotiations, the PYD seems to only boycott meetings. A recent statement by the Massoud Barzani, President of autonomous region of Kurdistan reveals that the current division among Kurdish parties in Syria could be transformed. Thus, Barzani declared that he “will not accept the domination of a sole political power on the entire Kurdish region in Syria”. In how far this has further implications on the ground is still not foreseeable.