In the latest episode of Who’s in Charge? the diplomatic communities are already glad-clapping and patting themselves on the back. Ghassan Hitto has moved from the political shadows to centre stage as the newly elected interim prime minister for the Syrian opposition. From obscurity to the spotlight. That is the way we imagine it. It is more likely that the real story is one of diligent work in the shadows of diaspora until opportune time to make an announcement.
Media provides the usual shallow headlines like the one by the Christian Science Monitor, “Is a Leader from Texas a Good Fit for the Syrian Opposition?” Intellectual midgets opine that decades spent in the US undermines credibility with Syrians. When spin is placed on geopolitical Islam by western minds we tend to contemplate the wrong questions. Islam has a long standing tradition of proxy administration for governance of lands not yet within the boundaries of the house of Islam. Islam took root with a strategist with the rank of a Prophet (PBUH).
Pause for a moment and retrieve an egg from the kitchen. Crack the egg and place it in a bowl. Now take the egg shell and smash it with the palm of your hand. This is the Syria of today. “All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men....” Syria has more factions than Humpty Dumpty had cracks. So the challenge for Hitto is a simple one. Does he have the tenacity to forge the necessary alliances? Will he walk with feet bleeding into his sandals?
It has been interesting to follow the jihad of Syria via citizen video capture. The beginning point of the conflict provided on-the-ground citizen sentiment. It was anti-Assad and not much else. What has evolved since the beginning of this movement is a new level of communication with the world outside Syrian borders. It presents the shadow of sophisticated international networks linking with indigenous efforts to topple a regime. The troubling aspects of Syria’s current socio-political scene provide unique challenges for any new leadership parachuted into the landscape. It did not work out when Ahmed Chalabi was parachuted into Iraq by neoconservatives. He forged alliances based on expediency. It certainly has not worked out with Karzai, who gives new meaning to the word kleptocrat. Is Hitto the man of the hour to forge political alliances in the graveyard of Humpty Dumpty?
The security nerve centre of the nation is no longer consolidated within the skull of one organisation or branch of government. Ganglion politico-military bodies roam the land. These economically franchised ‘brigades’ are the good, the bad and the ugly. But if there is one thing that is impressive it is the depictions of the military-style training. The evolutionary focus on urban guerilla warfare training as opposed to mere movements of people to squat in squares and await their fate is impressive. Across the board, I am observing a level of training that is similar to my own. And the implements of war, the tools of the craft, are comparable. It raises the obvious question. Who is funding the civil war brigands and firebrands of Syria? A recent video showed dead Iranians with identification laid across their corpses. But Chechens, Kurds, the locusts of al Qaeda, and other groups are denuding the nation of prosperity. All this whilst jihad portals chatter about shuttle flights loaded with arms from Russia and Iran. There is always a financial gain from the misery of war. Swofford prefers peace.
Political eunuchs residing within impotent world bodies scurry about whilst men with super-charged testosterone have one target: Bashar al-Assad. CDS policy arches (containment, de-escalation and stabilisation) have been poorly managed by the international community. Such arches are not solely the domain of internationally dispatched military flanks. But the policy arches are completely dependent upon international consensus and the will to act. Part of the wavering, the incapacitation of this inertia, is the usual diplomatic befuddling that seeks to manage all outcome and variables. This is understandable. In a post Arab Spring environment the stable powers have had to struggle with a treacherous learning curve. But that does not negate the need for countermoves within corridors of power. It must be remembered that minus stabilisation, there can be no democracy. Stabilisation allows for democratic rule. Categorically, Syria is engulfed in a civil war. Syria is a decade away from any real shot at democracy. But she needs to be months, and not years away, from stability. This needs to happen in 2013. Is Hitto an important part of this process? I do not know. I cannot secure the interview.
Last week, I viewed a video on what I now call the YouTube Brigades. Simply put, propaganda is grains of truth in silos of disinformation. This particular film short by the Global Islamic Media Front is titled The Beginning of the End. It is 19 minutes of footage of a militant training camp with image grabs of Syrian targets, and finally, the attack on the Syrian ministry of the interior on December 12, 2012. It is also a recruitment video. High impact statements are peppered with Qur’anic war cry amidst a geopolitical backdrop of injustice. Perhaps the most cleverly deployed recruitment slogan is, “I am a Muslim and I love the sound of bullets against rocks.” We should desire stability.
The training of the Martyrs Brigade of Damascus shows a training camp that sports an obstacle course. Members are taught to clear buildings, urban guerilla warfare style. As an aside, additional videos have shown night manoeuvres with participants wearing night vision goggles.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this video is the strong sentiment expressed in regard to blood oath. Blood for soil. Kick-ass blood. The indoctrination factor would be quite overwhelming for any inexperienced youth seeking to travel to a land of jihad. The film ends with images of the explosion at the ministry of the interior and a quote of foreshadowing: “Today we infiltrated... and tomorrow....”
Ahh, yes. There is always tomorrow.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org