In Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s family and the Baath Party have for decades applied the theory of nationalism to serve personal interests and the sanctification of the leader, the opposition and their pro-democracy movements couldn’t take even one step towards reforms, constitutional change and devolution of power in the country.
Moreover, corruption has eaten up government institutions, human rights have become nearly non-existent, public anger has grown remarkably and the systematic racial discrimination practiced by Assad’s regime has deprived Kurds of their legitimate rights in Syria.
As civil resistance against dictatorship started in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrians were hoping for a spark that would start a similar revolution against Assad’s rule. The day Mubarak stepped down in Egypt gave hope to Syrians.
Amid the public unrest in the region, a doctor in the southern Syrian city of Daraa received a phone call about the fall of the Egyptian dictator by a friend. The female doctor’s reaction was: “We hope that our dictator will be next.”
One day later, she was arrested. While the elders tried to find a way to release her, young members of her family reacted directly by drawing a few fearless statements on their schools’ walls: “People want to overthrow the regime”, and “You are next.”
As the 14-year-old children were arrested and tortured, the revolution began and Syrian people started to take to the streets across the country. The authorities have used violent methods as the only solution for the crisis, but that couldn’t end the storm of public anger; on the contrary, the crisis has grown. The Syrian people will never return to the era before March 2011.
The long-termed stagnation in both Syria’s social and political life -- besides emergency law and the policy of intimidation practiced by the Assad regime to stay in power -- were factors that raised popular anger against the authorities after more than four decades of silence, and revolution became inevitable.
Undoubtedly, the atmosphere in the region regarding other ongoing revolutions against similar dictators has played a major role in motivating Syrians to take to the streets and protest against tyranny.
In fact, Syrians were already familiar with the brutality of the security forces and the killing machine of the intelligence service, known as the mukhabarat. However, they made their decision to participate in writing a new chapter for Syria and creating a pluralistic and democratic country.
Despite the fact that they weren’t strongly convinced that they would be able to continue their civil resistance against a powerful tyrannical regime, they are succeeding. For them, it became “either now or never.”
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, young activists and coordinators have primarily led the demonstrations, and social media -- mainly Facebook -- has played a remarkable role in coordinating the popular movement on street.
The intense interaction between activists domestically and abroad has enabled events and developments to be documented daily. The truth has been given to the international media, which is still not allowed to enter the country and investigate what is really happening in Syria. As young activists started to risk their lives in order to record the events, the importance of citizen journalism has risen remarkably.
“Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams,” the American playwright Tennessee Williams once stated.
Thus, it’s a matter of a willingness to begin. The strength of belief in an issue can reflect the limits on patience until goals are reached. This is the case in the Syrian revolution, in which a peaceful youth is bravely facing the forces and militias of a brutal regime for the sake of a better life.
However, those “good dreamers” are still worried that their “dreams” will be stolen by some elitists.
“Leadership” is one word that strikes fears in many Syrians regarding the ongoing developments. One month after the revolution began, protesters started to organize themselves through Local Coordinating Committees founded by activists who have collaborated and took the responsibility of managing the popular movement on the ground.
The urgent need for official spokespeople has led many Syrian opposition activists from multiple political and ideological backgrounds to interact with those young revolutionaries -- who started to rise peacefully and bravely against Assad’s regime -- to play the role of spokespeople for the Syrian revolution.
The events led to the creation of the Syrian National Council (SNC) which includes many Syrian academics and other opposition figures along with some representatives of Local Committees, the National Coordinating Body (NCB) which includes members from different opposition parties and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) which includes 10 Kurdish parties.
Ten months after the uprising began, the Syrian opposition still hasn’t been able to make the sacrifices that the Syrian protesters have -- especially concerning unachieved promises on providing civilians with protection and internationalizing the demands of demonstrators. Yet, each opposition movement -- including SNC and NCB -- considers itself an influential leader to the popular revolution and a main driver for its compass.
However, the endless tension between opposition parties remains recognizable despite the urgent calls for them to consolidate and create one legitimate representative for the Syrians and their revolution – and thus play an influential political role to use all available means to oust the Assad regime.
By issuing their statements, both the SNC and the NCB continue to undermine each other’s efforts, and exclusion continues to dominate most of their discourse. This fact leaves big question marks regarding the mentality that will soon govern Syria and whether it is be similar to the current regime.
Moreover, the question of Golan -- the Syrian area occupied by Israel -- remains a key issue; it’s as if a war with Israel is awaiting the country after Assad is overthrown, while the most important issues -- democracy and the future of minorities in Syria -- are neglected.