Syrian Extremists: Let There be War and Ruins… Not Only in Ukraine, But in Syria Too!
No sooner had the latest Ukraine events begun, a total alignment shaped up globally. This was not limited to the countries involved in the crisis and those affiliated with them or entrenched in their trench, but also included forces, parties, organizations, and personalities from all over the world.
Syrian sides were no exception, and the formal position from the battle (and here we emphasize “formal”, which we will explain later) became an additional duality used by the extremists from the Syrian sides in their continuous efforts to postpone, disrupt, and prevent a solution to the Syrian crisis.
The greater portion of the opposition that the West has supported from the outset, went towards fully supporting the West’s position. The most extremist and cajoling among those was the Etilaf (also known as the “Syrian National Coalition”) and some of its likes. Statements by the Etilaf’s and some of its leading figures went beyond mere support of the Western position, to “seize” the opportunity to request military support.
- On 26 February, i.e., two days after the Ukraine battle started, one of the Etilaf’s officials called on the international community to start “supporting the Syrian National Army and supplying it with advanced equipment and anti-aircraft weapons… [which] will help limit Putin’s military options in Syria and prevent him from threatening the NATO members using the Russian bases on the Syrian coast”. He “stressed that the security of Europe has become more associated with the security of Syria following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which requires serious thinking and an actual effort to support the Syrian revolution and the Syrian National Army in order to weaken the Russian military presence in Syria”.
- On 27 February, another Etilaf official, posted a tweet in which he said that “supporting the National Army with advanced weapons is enough to defeat the Assad regime and its allies, and we are able to radically overturn the military equation in Syria if the minimum level of support is provided”.
- On 1 March, according to a news report about one of its meetings, the Etilaf members participating in the meeting “stressed that the international community must correct its mistakes in Syria and stop the Russian expansion by supporting the Syrian National Army and supplying it with advanced equipment and anti-aircraft missiles as it did with Ukraine. They made it clear that supporting the Syrian National Army will limit Putin’s military options in Syria”.
- In another news report also on 1 March, another Etilaf official said “that confronting the Russian arrogance must start in Syria through the resumption of real political, military and humanitarian support to the Syrian revolution, considering that this will change the equation and restore stability to Syria, Ukraine and beyond”.
These are just a few examples of statements by this entity during the first five days of the battle, and a plethora of other similar articles and statements can be listed, whether from this entity or its likes.
Working Against the Political Solution
The first thing that can be deduced from such statements is that the extremists from the Syrian sides are still working with the mentality of “military decisiveness” and “toppling the regime”. Despite some statements here and there about their desire to reach a political solution, the actual positions only indicate that they have never given up on working in a manner that contradicts and does not lead to a real political solution.
The statements about Ukraine, including the demand for military support, are further evidence that some opposition sides still hold on to the slogan of “toppling through militarization” as their main option. Although these sides occupy a key position in the so-called “official opposition”, they have never been honest in working to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria, but were forced to engage in it because that is what the countries asked of them, the same countries that have put obstacles in the way of a political solution.
Furthermore, the involvement of this type of forces in the formal process associated with the political solution, and as events and their behavior prove, has no purpose other than to prevent this same solution from progressing. This “opposition” operates in the same manner as the regime’s extremists, and both have essentially the same goals: to seize power by force, and not to share it within a formula that can be reached through a political solution based on negotiation and consensus. Specifically, some opposition sides, by demanding military support from the West to help them remove the regime, are still dreaming of a “solution” similar to the Iraqi model.
Different Expressions of the Same Position
Working according to this mentality and mechanism, that is, against a consensual political solution, is not new for these “ruling” forces in the opposition. They have adopted it from the outset, since they were imposed on Syrians by the sides that were and are still working to prolong the crisis and the attrition process of Syria and Syrians. It is worth mentioning here that these forces, whether in their current or previous forms, also rejected the Geneva Communique in 2012, and reluctantly accepted it after it became clear that they could no longer continue on with their rejection in light of the international climate and the internal situation.
Later in 2015, when the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2254, they initially rejected the resolution based on their adherence to the Geneva Communique (the same one they had previously rejected). They continued with rejection of 2254 for nearly two years on the grounds that the resolution was “a distortion of the Geneva Communique”!
Later, and also reluctantly, UNSC Resolution 2254 became their demand to which they were holding on, and based on that they refused to attend the Sochi Conference in early 2017, worked against it, and tried to thwart it in cooperation with their international Western partners. In this context, they called on people not to attend it and incited against those from the opposition who attended it. They also refused its outcomes, including the call for the formation of the Constitutional Committee, which they agreed to later. They even joined the Constitutional Committee as an essential component, and in a proportion that gave them the opportunity to help the regime in delaying its formation for nearly two years.
The Opposition Extremists are Willing to Sacrifice the Country and the People
What is certain is that in our current world, no two causes, issues, or crises anywhere in the world are unrelated to some degree. Therefore, there is a link to some degree between the Syrian and Ukrainian crises, and because the major contenders in them are almost the same, the degree of connection between them is not minimal. This creates an opportunity for some sides involved in the Ukrainian file to exploit that link to achieve gains against their opponents, and here specifically the NATO and the West in general are trying to eradicate the “Russian danger” to their interests and will use any spot in the world as a stage to achieve its endeavors.
Starting from this reality, Syrian patriots’ approach should revolve around working to isolate the Syrian file as much as possible from any adverse effects expected from any conflicts anywhere else. Today, this is specifically how it should be with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This may not mean necessarily being able to completely or even partially isolate it, but at least contribute to reducing the adverse effects as much as possible, and work to benefit from the potential positive effects.
If we look at the way the extremists from the Syrian sides are working through their statements, political behavior, and the approach to the entire political solution, we see that they have contributed during the crisis years, directly or indirectly, to reinforcing and increasing foreign intervention, especially Western, knowing that these interventions contribute to the continuation and deepening of the crisis and the disruption and obstruction of the political solution.
Looking again at the example of the “opposition” Etilaf’s statements and demands based on what is happening in Ukraine, contributes exactly to these efforts that are aiming to deepen the Syrian crisis. This behavior cannot be understood any way other than availing themselves, and even trying to avail Syria and Syrians, to serve Western interests, and especially American interests, and turning Syria into a burning hotbed for the West’s battle against Russia. They are doing this with complete indifference to the spilling of more Syrian blood and destruction of the country.
Some of these statements directly called on the West to open a battle front with Russia in Syria, one that could be another battle to pressure Russia, while reigniting the flames of war in Syria. This is not surprising for some of those who called themselves Syrian “opposition”, even though they have not set foot in Syria for more than three decades.
After more than 10 years since the beginning of the crisis, it is no longer accurate to call those “opposition of the hotels”, as the times of them staying in hotels is long gone. Now, they have properties, homes, businesses, and investments from which they live with great stability outside Syria, and it means absolutely nothing to them the price that Syria and Syrians will have to pay in additional pains and blood streams on the altar of madness for which they are calling.
Extremists from Both Sides: We Don’t Want a Solution!
Extremists from the Syrian sides still work continuously and intensively to use the tools at their disposal to disrupt any progress in the political process and to prevent reaching a political solution that ends the crisis Syrians are living. Even though the political rhetoric of each sides appears to attack the other side and accuse it of disrupting reaching a solution, nevertheless in essence they have one goal: give the other side the pretext to disrupt.
With regards to the Constitutional Committee, since forming it and launching its work in October 2019, the extremists from both sides worked through the media with their statements and inside the meeting room to provoke the other side and push it to withdraw with the purpose of ending the Constitutional Committee without offering an alternative. Both sides know that ending the Constitutional Committee now, and in these circumstances, means returning to what is before square one in the political solution track. These practices are not limited only to the Constitutional Committee, but anything that could contribute to prolonging and deepening the crisis, including perpetuating the de facto partition, increasing the sanctions that only affect ordinary Syrians and add to their suffering, and opening the door for military foreign intervention that will ignite the frontlines and battles. Extremists from both sides are trying to achieve that today, through statements about the Ukraine battle, whether by calling for Western intervention or by saying (on the side of the regime’s extremists) that what is happening in Ukraine should open the door for “military decisiveness” against the areas outside the regime control.
This degree of mobilization, tension, and madness in the way the extremists from the Syrian sides are dealing with the battle in Ukraine, if anything, this indicates primarily that they are fully aware that it is a battle in which the US-Western hegemony – especially through the NATO – is being undermined. For these extremists, this is a critical battle because they see that their ability to continue to dominate the scene and disrupt the solution with their dominance of the scene is deeply linked to the results of this battle.
This way of acting, including what we have mentioned here regarding the statements of some sides affiliated with the opposition in their request of military support, contribute to the goals that the extremists on both sides have worked on, and with a noticeable escalation over the past years. This included the attempts to end the Constitutional Committee, whose role within its current form is limited to keeping the political solution alive pending change of the circumstances to the appropriate conditions for a solution. The goal of all this is to end once and for all UNSC Resolution 2254 and the chances of reaching, through consensus and negotiations, a comprehensive political solution that gives the Syrian people the right to self-determination, restores Syria’s sovereignty and independence, and repositions it in its historical role in the region. This is what the extremists do not way, and implicitly neither does the West, the US, and of course “Israel”.
This behavior makes it necessary for patriotic Syrians today to work intensively to face those and push towards the real and comprehensive political solution through the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 2254, which cannot be achieved as long as extremists from both sides dominate and control the scene. This means that the opposition in its current form cannot be the carrier for this solution, which means it needs to be seriously restructured in a manner that gives the greater weight for the forces that are working with the utmost honesty, seriousness, and patriotism to reach a political solution, in a manner that include everyone, does not exclude any Syrian political side, and does not give any side dominance over the decisions.