Four years of brutal war have been imposed on the Syrian people by the Bashar al-Assad regime, denying them the chance to liberate themselves from the shackles of servitude and internal colonisation.
Syria today is like a body bloodied by wounds, and the only apparent sign of the revolution is the catastrophic humanitarian disaster caused by the regime's scorched-earth policy. The conditions of the conflict have completely changed and the revolution has transformed into multiple
Whatever happens, Syrians will not give up their rights.
wars: sectarian, regional and international wars in which hidden forces are taking part.
In the absence of any hope for a decisive military outcome or a political settlement, and with the escalation of the humanitarian crisis, many Syrians believe they are about to lose what they sacrificed life and limb for and what they became refugees for.
This feeling is intensified by the defeat and regression of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other groups who, over the past two years, have lost over half the lands they liberated. Additionally, the international military and political support these groups enjoyed at the start of the revolution, or were promised, has also receded, while extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and its offshoots have grown.
There is a growing feeling among Syrians who have sacrificed everything they had for the revolution that they have been swindled. They had pinned all their hopes on the revolution of liberation from tyranny and servitude, but have in reality become the victims of deceit, international collusion and Arab apathy, as well as the failures of Syrian political leaders.
On the margins of these feelings of despair, people are looking for any solution, and many governments, which until yesterday were supporting wars of extermination or were silent in the face of daily massacres, are beginning to reap the fruit of what they believe to be the death of the Syrian revolution. Undoubtedly, Syrian military and civilian leaders carry much of the blame for the mistakes that have driven the country towards the dead end in which it currently finds itself.
However, the primary blame is shared by the regime and major powers. Further still, a portion of the responsibility for the current state of Syria rests on the shoulders of countries that announced their support for the revolution but not to help it progress, rather to contain it and protect their own interests.
No room for truce or surrender Syrians who are enduring this unprecedented trauma have a right and a responsibility to question themselves, their supposed leaders and their friends in the international community to account for the betrayal of the principles of international solidarity and security that has led to the current fate of Syria.
But this cannot also be a reason to retreat from the battle in which the human, material and emotional investments of the Syrian people have far exceeded the investments of any nation in the history of modern revolutions.
This is also not the right time to engage in internal conflicts and settle scores, as proven by the steadfastness and resolve of Syrians in refugee camps, exile and besieged neighbourhoods against submission and surrender.
We should not allow the highjacking suffered by the revolution at the hands of militias and international powers to further divide us or excuse the squandering of the immense sacrifices of the Syrian people over the past four years. Furthermore, we should not allow for the focus of the humanitarian catastrophe to be the entry point for the acceptance of any solution under the guise of "realistic" solutions.
Even if the population were to concede to the regime and agree to return to the fold of obedience, it will not please the tyrant who will pursue them to extermination. The regime's plans to abolish the population and replace them with other subjects from elsewhere are already obvious. The project to keep the Assad family regime in power, which is a project of Iranian occupation implemented under fabricated Syrian consent, does not allow for the displaced to return and nor does it recognise their essential right to life.
Following this conciliatory route will only ease the mission of the Iran-Assad occupation regime by creating better and less scandalous conditions for it to carry out its war of political and demographic extermination against the Syrian people.
Weakness and submission to the current reality would mean that we are abandoning the Syrian population and killing it twice; first when we left it to fight on its own and then again when we leave it to die of cold, hunger and insignificance in refugee camps and exile, for some to obtain worthless positions in governments named unity government, while they are governments of destruction.
The heroic period of the revolution in which Syrians were united in demanding dignity, justice and freedom is undoubtedly a thing of the past. However, the revolution as a continuous struggle for the just cause for which it was started, a revolution for dignity and freedom, is still alive and will continue until the Syrian people achieve their rights. It will not stop until Syria is saved from the occupation that has replaced the regime, and until the humanitarian crisis that affects the lives of millions of Syrians and now represents the main reality for Syria and Syrians is reversed.
Need for review and reform
We cannot continue on the old path that has led to the revolution to lose its way.
Nonetheless, we cannot continue on the old path that has led the revolution to lose its way. If the path of truce means squandering the huge sacrifices of the Syrians than surely stubbornly holding on to hollow slogans amounts to belittling the tragedy endured by the Syrian people due to the catastrophe that has befell them.
Both the negligence of the Syrian people's sacrifices and belittling their suffering will lead to failure and will not provide any solution. We are in need of a new vision that differs from the one that accompanied the revolution at its most heroic stage, and which relied on spontaneous public action that exploded everywhere in Syria.
The old vision sufficed with calls to support the revolution and defended it in the media and diplomatic arenas. However, no longer is the need limited to "a ministry of foreign affairs" that coordinates international relations: instead, there is an urgent need to build a centralised national organisation the leads the liberation efforts and coordinates armed, civil and cultural resistance activities against the occupation regime and its tyranny that is becoming more entrench with evey passing day. The revolution requires the building of a long-term resistance plan that drains the occupation and its aides, and that unified the ranks and regroups Syrian, all Syrians if possible, and expands their participation and involvement in the political activities aimed to hasten the hour of salvation and put an end to the war of extermination and occupation.
The revolution needs better organisation of efforts and resources and the utilisation of the Syrian diaspora, coupled with a renewed political and media discourse that reflects its inclusivity and its aims to protect the lives and interests of all Syrians. It also needs a clear action plan that restores its lost initiative, reformulates its objectives and solves the revolution's three major outstanding problems: leadership, independent resources and the promotion of nation-oriented decision making. Whatever happens, Syrians will not give up their rights, and in spite of four years of bitter fighting, systematic efforts to undermine their social and political unity and the organized campaign to destroy their cities and neighbourhoods and to throw them out onto the roads of displacement and seas of death, they remain standing and defiant in the face of death.
After four years of disappointment and suffering, Syrians have lost faith in many countries that have displayed an indescribable lack of initiative, or perhaps it was an example of apathy at its best, however despite the misery and loss, Syrians have not lost their self-confidence. It drives their perseverance and determination to uproot the will of evil, and this perseverance and resistance will continue with the ever-present patience and hope that have become sources of pride for every Syrian.
Burhan Ghalioun is a Syrian intellectual, and a professor of political sociology at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He was the first president of the opposition Syrian National Council, and was author of “A manifesto for democracy”, among other books.
This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.