PHOTO: President Obama looking for Syrian moderates
One of the features of the current debate in the US about military intervention in Syria — and indeed for many months — has been the question if Washington can find “moderate” factions to support, preventing Islamists/extremists/jihadists/foreigners from taking power if/when President Assad falls.
Who else to sort this out for President Obama but the tongue-in-cheek blogger Karl reMarks?
Who are the moderates in Syria? A so-so guide to easy-going rebels
The US Secretary of State John Kerry has asserted that moderate rebel groups in Syria are growing in influence, contrary to the common perception that the rebels are dominated by Islamic extremists. In order to get to the bottom of this we commissioned an in-depth study that has concluded that moderates do indeed represent the majority of the Syrian rebels. They are however constantly over-shadowed by the jihadis who frequently do rebel-ish things like fighting battles and shrieking while waving rifles in the air. The moderates are prevented by an innate sense of decorum from acting in this buffoonish way but that doesn’t mean that they are not a significant, albeit subtle, force within Syria.
Below is a brief guide to the main moderate rebel groups in Syria and their ideological inclinations. We hope it will be useful in acquainting the world with the moderates who are, by definition, quite retiring. It’s not even clear why moderates would join a revolution, but let’s not pull on that string.
The Roses of Damascus Brigade
The ‘Roses’, as they are commonly referred to, are so moderate they only fight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In the words of their leader Abu Randa, there’s more to life than revolutions, that’s why they like to dedicate the rest of the week to yoga, stamp collecting and spending time with the family.
The roses’ main ideological inclination is relative moderation, which they apply to all areas of their politics and life. They drink their tea warm for example, which is frowned upon in many areas of Syria and has cost them many supporters. Yet, nobody said that revolution is easy.
The Red Unicorn Brigade
The red unicorns are the true visionaries and utopians of the Syrian revolution. They are the most radical moderate group intellectually, even though their fighting skills leave much to be desired. The unicorns’ slogan is ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ which their vicious enemies have attempted to portray as a rhetorical question.
The unicorns believe in a bright future for Syria, a democratic, non-specific, non-committal political system that is inclusive and participatory, and various other synonyms approved by the EU’s central committee on acceptable language. The unicorns’ central belief is that one day everything will be fine.
The Levantine Rainbow Brigade
One of the most diverse and inclusive groups in Syria, the Rainbows are a true symbol of the original values of the Syrian revolution. Openness, plurality and equality represent the central ideas of this group, whose membership sometimes rises to double digits.
They often shame their radical opponents by appropriating their language and using it in a positive manner. For example, they say things like ‘we are on a jihad of love’, and ‘let’s behead hate’. It’s not quite clear why, but those slogans are seen as irritating and vaguely hippy-ish by many Syrians. Yet, as the Rainbows say, it’s better to be irritating and be heard than to be ignored like a passing cloud.