Proactive Syrian Opposition Intent on Not Becoming Another Iraq or Libya

Nir Rosen has spent two months in Syria reporting for AlJazeera, which just debriefed him with two interviews. Once you’ve read them, you’ll finally feel like you know what’s going on them. In the second, he speaks about the armed resistance groups, which are still a local phenomenon without foreign intervention, aside from Syrian exiles sending them money.

Some of the details that emerge surprise. One is the lessons that members of the opposition have learned from watching the protests in Tunisia and Egypt. When asked what the concerns of the activists are, Rosen replies:

They recognise the importance of maintaining civilian political control over the armed revolution and preventing the emergence of militias out of control. They worry about the emergence of sectarianism, vendettas, and criminality. They think of how to provide services and security to their population in areas where there are no longer government services. They worry about how to secure government institutions in the event of a sudden collapse of the regime. Nobody wants to be Libya or Iraq.

One can’t help but be impressed by their foresight. Meanwhile, when asked if Syrians wish for foreign intervention, Rosen responds that while the “older intellectual opposition figures who are well-known but not significant in this uprising are opposed to foreign intervention,” most “opposition activists, fighters and supporters on the ground in Syria are in favour of some form of foreign military intervention.”

That kind of disagreement is natural. Less so is this (emphasis added):

Surprisingly, the mainstream Syrian opposition on the ground looks to the West for help. … Even Islamist leaders of the revolution look to Europe and the US more than they do to Arab or Muslim countries (with the exception of Turkey). … It strikes me as the opposite of many Egyptian protesters who reacted to decades of a pro-American and pro-Israeli dictatorship by expressing anti-imperialist slogans.

What’s his explanation for how they look to the West?

… the Syrian opposition associates notions of resistance and anti-imperialism with the Assad regime.

Furthermore:

… the causes themselves have been discredited and their enemy has been reduced to the regime and the daily struggle for survival.

In other words, says Rosen:

It is the death of ideology, in a way.