For those who are not familiar with Syrian demographics might be surprised to know that most of the Syrian Muslim communities (About 72% of the population) were quite tolerant; they embraced co-existence, and even had a deep secular streak because of French colonization. Today, while the war still rages, evil Syria perpetuates terror and chaos across the whole region. Secularism among Sunni Muslims has evaporated thanks to Assad’s war on his people.
The French Mandate
One of the few blessings the French left behind when they abandoned the d’outre mer territories of Syria and Lebanon, after WWII, was their secular culture that influenced Islam positively. There are more Muslim seculars in both countries than in any other region. On par with Tunisia and Morocco, if not more. This is why you seldom see, prior to the Syrian war, any organized fundamentalists with the exception of the small Muslim Brotherhood Order the Assad family kept in-check. That order had the support of 5% of Syrian Muslims. A minority to mitigate any risky takeover. However, the MB has the organizational skills to spread and multiply, which made secular Muslims quite nervous in Syria. They backed Assad more out of fear from religious extremism than love for the Assad style of governing the country with an iron fist.
The Merchant Families
For example, the majority of merchants in control of Syria’s commerce, emanating from Aleppo, are mostly secular Sunni Muslims. Over the last seven years, they took to the sideline refusing to forge any support with the opposition battling Assad. In fact, many backed Assad because of their business interests, and their secular tendencies. To these wealthy traditional families, ISIS is evil incarnate.
Among these families, many leaders, men and women, could have risen to take the helm in Syria in favor of more tolerance, more openness, and freedom of religion. In addition to respect for the Syrian people and their aspirations for a country void of fear and intimidation. For Assad, the biggest danger to his rule remain the secular Sunni Muslims. They come from within. Once the uprising broke out, dealing with this threat became the top priority of his violent regime. As for the Islamists and the fundamentalists, Assad needed them to save his neck. Through them, he can claim he is less evil than his foes.
Empty the Prisons
Almost 400 days into the war, the Assad regime began releasing from jails all the violent fundamentalists it kept in check. Eventually, Vladimir Putin embraced that tactical move to strengthen the ranks of the violent fundamentalists by releasing his own Chechnyans from his jails to dispatch them to Syria. By December of 2012, Syria was running amok with violent zealots claiming to battle the Assad regime but whose real purpose was to appear quickly on the western counter-terrorism radars.
Notwithstanding Assad terror against civilians, they grew so quickly, through recruitment and defections, until their threat became more real than Assad and Putin anticipated. Why did Syrians join them, not the secular FSA? Because the Islamists gained access to oil and weapons with Assad’s help. The very same weapons Barack Obama refused, at first, to provide to the secular FSA fighters. When he did, it was too little, too late. This is why evil Syria perpetuates terror and chaos today.
The FSA Threat
While the Islamists, represented by many brigades and multiple organizations (Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, Islamic State) were growing in stature and power, Assad concentrated his killing machine against the FSA. He began quietly and rapidly killing as many secular Muslims who joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA). It was imperative, as Assad and Putin watched the monstrosities they both released from their jails metastasize into an Islamic State that stretched across Syria and Iraq, to eliminate the threat of secularist Muslims. Using barrel bombs, and deadly chemical weapons, Assad almost exterminated the FSA. The weak Barack Obama turned a blind eye to the killing of pro-western Syrian fighters just so he can get his Iran Deal agreed upon.
Syria Today: Evil Syria Perpetuates Terror
Syria today is but a basket of terrorist actors and organizations. Assad remains in power. IS has as many as 30,000 fighting a war of attrition and resistance using underground tactics. Iran, one of the most violent regimes ever, is entrenched in Syria with the long-term goals of subjecting the Arab world to forced conversions or expulsion from their lands. The seculars have either wilted away as refugees in other countries, or they have perished fighting for a better Syria. Today, evil Syria perpetuates terror and chaos across the whole region. Tolerant Muslims, secular Muslims, and peaceful Muslims every nation in the world wished they can reform Islam, have all been decimated by Assad and Putin.
Just So Assad Rules
All the evil before us today is the result of one man’s quest for total destruction. Just so he remains in power. Do absorb the gravity of that sentence.
One day, the Orthodox Church, which backed Assad, is going to regret deeply its support for an unpopular violent figure. Had the leaders played a smarter role in backing the FSA secular defectors, maybe Syria would be a better place today. Maybe the moderates of the region would have constructed a lasting relationship to remedy the wrong of Constantinople. At one point in our history in the future.
Maybe this is wishful thinking. Mind you, the alternative reality is that everyone in Syria has blood on their hands. Worse yet, everyone is looking to avenge the other for generations to come. Evil Syria perpetuates terror today because responsible leaders fell victims to the fear of the unknown over hope to restore sanity.