No More Fence Sitting: Intellectuals all the Way With the "Secular" Leader In Damascus

I have been observing a phenomenon, the existence of a sizable number of political and intellectual bystanders or spectators of the Syrian scene. They appear to be waiting for the right moment or event to provide the needed rationalization to jump into the Assad camp without remorse or inconvenience. These spectators are not hypothetical, but actual human beings, some of whom I know personally, and others whom I have been following through their columns, posts, and interviews via new social media, daily press and TV networks.

These spectators have witnessed two encounters with the Damascene tyrant propaganda machine. The first occurred after the regime opened fire at peaceful demonstrators and ordered planes to bomb their villages, a deliberate strategy to force the opposition to arm themselves in self-defense. The term regime propagandists coined for this manipulative arming of the opposition was alaskara, which translates into the militarization of the revolution.

This strategy worked for some fence-sitting intellectuals, luring them into the trap of Assad's "pacifism." Although others initially judged "the militarization of the revolution" an insufficient incentive to openly support the regime, they too found themselves drawn into the trap when the takfiris (Nusra and ISIS) emerged on the Syrian scene. A second encounter with the regime's propaganda machine and its operatives occurred after Assad's exploitation of Al Nusra and the ISIS atrocities, notwithstanding the Syrian government's role in facilitating the sudden rise of the ISIS. Here, the threats posed by the takfiris were dismissed as existential! Thus the moment has arrived for the fencesitters to choose between barbarity and modernity, with Assad carrying the torch of "civility" and "secularism!" No more excuses for the hesitant spectators!

(Artwork: "The Dictator" by Yasir Safi)

Elie Chalala

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