Syria's merciless war has destroyed the middle ground

Syria's merciless war has destroyed the middle ground
Comment: The ideals of freedom and democracy have been silenced by the fury of conflict, and no one seems capable of restoring them, says Rateb Shabo.
2 min read
06 Apr, 2015
The civil war has defaced the ideals of the revolution [AFP]

The Syrian regime is losing territory, and is on the retreat. Idlib is the latest regime-controlled area to fall to the opposition. Its military position has been deeply shaken, leading it to lash out with acts of vengeance on civilian areas.

It labels all opposition movements as "terrorist", including the civilians it kills. The regime has never considered another option to killing, because it cares only for the interests of the ruling clique and not the country.

Meanwhile, groups such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State gain ground. They too are blinded by their ideology: Those who are not active supporters are enemies to be killed and brutilised.

So on the one hand there is the regime and its rhetoric of "terrorism", and on the other the extremist groups who label those they oppose and cannot subdue as apostates.

A war of extremes

Both sides harbour the same motivations: unbound hunger for power, and unlimited denial of others' rights.

There is no room for a middle ground, and the conflict has become a binary argument: those who are not fully on this side must then be fully on the other side.

The ideals of resistance, secularism, patriotism and democracy are lost in the din.

The Nusra Front, for instance, is not a revolutionary force, nor does it offer a political alternative - it is merely a military challenge to the regime.

The majority of those who side with Nusra do not do so out for their political convictions, but because they believe the group can inflict military defeats on the regime.

In these conditions, victory for either side would not bring the country closer to breaking free of tyranny. It would compound it.

There is a clear political vacuum in Syria, but those who long for democracy and reform are unable to fill this vacuum. The polarisation has crushed them, and there is little value for non-armed parties in a war of attrition.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.