Any unknown future would be better than Syria's agony
by Amal Hanano
As the violence increases on both sides - most lately the repeated breaking of the so-called "Eid truce" - the vast majority of war crimes (measured by scale, intensity, and sheer numbers) are being committed by regime forces and by their loyal shabiha gangs.
Even the Syria expert Joshua Landis, who has long criticised the opposition and often toed the Assad line, now says the regime no longer has anything but "senseless destruction" to offer.
Another popular question is "What is going on in Syria? Does anyone really know?"
Some journalists and politicians use this misleading question to complicate the narrative. If we don't know what's going on in Syria, how can we possibly stop or prevent certain events?
Landis and others argue about which weapons should be supplied to which group, which sections of society to support, and so on.
Mr Obama boasted in the debate that he had been able to prevent massacres in Libya. But in contrast, the latest US efforts in Syria entail finding out which non-violent activists deserve strictly non-lethal aid. Does anyone imagine that sending satellite phones and cameras at this stage will help the US find out what is "really going on" in Syria?
It is obvious what is going on. There has always been a clear, historically-proven precedent: Bashar Al Assad and his cronies, like his father and the same cronies, are willing to kill thousands and destroy Syria to stay in power.
The Syrian people have been telling the world for months, with their words, chants, songs, blood and lives, that they no longer fear their known enemy. But still the world obsesses about the unknowns, demanding alternatives in the midst of a political vacuum of the regime's making, complaining about a fractured, weak opposition, fearing that violent extremism is on the rise while "stable" secularism is in danger, as Assad's planes keep dropping bombs.
The documentary filmmaker and activist, Matthew Van Dyke, currently in Aleppo, points out the obvious: it is a moral problem to base one's analysis on hypotheticals but ignore facts. As the Syrian activist Amer Al Shami recently tweeted, "Would you choose a hopeful unknown or a dangerous known?"
After 19 months, with 30,000 dead, tens of thousands vanished, hundreds of thousands made refugees, and Assad's violence spilling into Turkey and Lebanon, what unknowns about this regime are left to be uncovered? The "red line" on chemical weapons that must never be crossed? Is it "leadership" to remain paralysed by that?
Washington sources predict a drawn-out civil war. While they analyse and watch, Syrians live a nightmarish waiting game, paying the price of what is known.
In Syria and in the US, we are a long way from hope and change, and a long way from yet another spring. Another cold winter is coming, and this year there will be less fuel, less electricity, less shelter, less food and fewer Syrians in Syria. Thousands of refugees will be huddling in their tents, shivering on the morning of November 7, wondering if the smiling, victorious face on TV will possess some kind of magical "leadership". But for Syrians, hope has become a burden. Even in their hopes, Syrians continue to doubt.