The 17-month old uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad continues with no solution in sight. It is unfortunate that the dictator is still holding the office despite protests by millions of people against his brutal rule. Some negative impacts of the prolonged uprising have also started appearing in some areas of the volatile country. Syrian involved in the armed struggle against the brutal regime and human rights activists working in the troubled country say that the struggle has started radicalizing people while jihadists from al-Qaeda have also started poking their nose into the conflict.
Once ragtag rebels have now started a better armed resistance against security forces loyal to the regime and also started using concept of jihad in their campaigns against President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels believe that it is a better idea to fetch foreign funding and put weight in their resistance against the dictator. The phenomenon may bring short term good results as well but in the long run it will be disastrous. Syrians involved in the armed struggle against the dictator say that Idlib Province is one of the best examples of the current trend where the armed groups of rebels have been fighting against the security forces under the black banner of Prophet Mohammad.
During the weekly routine protest demonstrations on Monday, the rebels also carried a banner inscribed with name of Prophet Mohammad and “There is no god but Allah.” In a sense, the practice is helping the rebels unite all the opposition factions under one banner and definitely it will ultimately help them deal a final blow to the regime. But on the flipside, Syrians are becoming radicalized that is not a good omen for future of the uprising. Obama administration curtailed financial help and supply of communication equipments to the rebels on the grounds that they did not want the technology land in hands of extremists.
However, it is fact now that these armed groups have been getting foreign funding to run their campaigns against the regime. The one thing that should be worrisome for the international community is infiltration of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in troubled parts of the country. These terrorists have now been demanding a prominent role in the uprising and most probably can hijack the campaign from the Syrian rebels. Since mid July, the appearance of terrorists in the uprising has started becoming conspicuous in many ways.
A number of groups are homegrown as well and some of them are identified as Ahrar al-Sham and Sukur al-Sham – both the groups are very much conspicuous in Idlib for their activities. The international community should take stock of the situation before the matter slips out of their hands. The only way to check nefarious activities of jihadists is to ease out Assad and hold fresh elections in Syria to bring democracy.