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The Syrian Uprising is NOT a “civil war”

The Syrian Uprising is NOT a “civil war” nor are the freedom fighters “rebels”

– [In response to the NZ herald republishing of the Association Press article: How Syria's neighbours are drawn into its war]

The choice of words in the “How Syria’s neighbours are drawn into its war” article seems to be very misleading. Here, I aim to correct some of its statements.

In the first sentence, the article described the Syrian revolution as a “civil war”. Let me begin with the most basic definition of a Civil War. A Civil War is a war between citizens of the same country. However, this is not what is happening in Syria, and is not the purpose of the Syrian revolution. What is happening in Syria is a genocide, which is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people. So both a civil war and genocide include people being killed, but the difference is by whom. In a civil war, it is the “citizens” themselves that are fighting each other. The Syrian revolution, however, started by ordinary civilians protesting peacefully demanding their basic human rights which include their right to want change and stop being ruled by the same family for over 40 Years. Then, their president and his regime tried to suppress these civilians and used their armed forces to do so, which resulted in massive killings across the country, and this is evidently a genocide.

In the second sentence, the article goes on to describe these civilians as “rebels trying to topple him [the president]”. Now, the definition of rebel is a person who rises in armed resistance against an established government or ruler. The Syrian civilians where fighting for their rights to be free from over 4 decades of being ruled by one family. Therefore, “freedom fighters” would define them more appropriately than “rebels” since they were not armed at the start of the revolution. Yes, later on the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was established by soldiers defecting from the Assad Army and that is why members of the FSA are armed, but that still does not make them rebels because they were part of the government themselves, and upon realizing the injustice they then broke away to protect the peaceful demonstrations.

In its next paragraphs, the NZ herald article gives some information about how neighbouring countries are being affected, and below I will comment on some of the misleading statements it has made:

1) The article states that [the United States has been “reluctant” to use its military in another Mideast conflict]. One thing Syrians DO NOT want from the U.S.A is for them to bring in their military into their country to “liberate” it from a corrupt leader and have history repeat itself. So to say the U.S.A is reluctant portrays the meaning that Syrian civilians have been calling out to U.S. military intervention and the U.S. has unwillingly refused, and this is all not true. What Syrian civilians want from foreign countries, especially the USA, is to allow Syrians to buy anti-air missiles in order to use it against Al-Assad’s fighter jets which are bombing civilians and residential suburbs on a daily basis, they also require aid in removing Bashar Al Assad by having other countries impose sanctions on him, pressure him to step down, and stop recognizing his leadership. Help in overcoming the destruction of their country by humanitarian and economic aid is also being asked for.

2) About Israel, the article states: [Still, while no friend of Assad, Israel is also worried that if he is toppled, Syria could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists or descend into sectarian warfare]. First of all, let us ask a clear question with an obvious answer: Since when did Israel “worry” about the interests of any Middle Eastern country? Instead this statement should read “Israel is worried that if he [Assad] is toppled, it [Israel] would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists and be caught in warfare”. As funny as it may seem, Assad is actually playing a big role in protecting Israel. We know that Israel does not have many “friends” (as with many countries around the world), and we know that politics has been made into a game where “friends” don’t really exist; they are rather “temporary colleagues that can benefit you at a particular point in time”. So yes, Israel may be “no friend of Assad”, but Assad also happens to be a “well-behaved colleague” to Israel.

3) About Iraq, the article stated: [Sunni and Shiite fighters from Iraq have made their way to Syria to join the civil war]. Again, we repeat the point that it is not a civil war but a desire to change for the better. Another thing that I find fascinating about this statement is its oversimplification of the Syrian situation which really undermines the rights of the Syrian civilians to fight for their freedom. When it says “made their way to join the civil war” like it is some sort of fiesta that everyone can just come along and join in. How can two different groups of “fighters” just “make their way” into Syria and “join” in? Is there no border? No customs? No restrictions? No inspection? If the answer to these questions is “Yes” then clearly Assad has now lost control over the country, and lost his authority along with it and should step down at this stage. If the answer to these questions is “No, there still are customs, borders, etc” then there should not be “fighter” groups simply “making their way in”, which makes the above statement false. Unless, of course, Assad himself is allowing for this to happen to increase chaos and killings in the country – possibly as a way of revenge for the thought of taking him down.

It is clear that the situation cannot be easily interpreted. Although it would be ideal if we could see politics as black and white, the overlapping usually causes a great deal of “grey matter” which tends to fog up our world.

Please visit the Syrian Solidarity of New Zealand website and Facebook page for updates:



Email: syrian.solidarity@gmail.com

Written by,

Areej Arif

Member of Syrian Solidarity


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