Understanding the Syrian revolution
Just before Christmas, 2012 (12/24/12) , I wrote an extensive critique of US policy in Syria (with the eponymous title, "Why Is America Midwiving a Muslim Brotherhood-Ruled Syria?"). My analysis highlighted the deep seated, mainstream Islamic, vox populi-supported Syrian Muslim Brotherhood jihad to reverse both Western colonial, and subsequent dictatorial Baathist secularization.
Now, aligned with the modern "Al Qaeda movement" jihadist fighters the global Muslim Brotherhood has spawned, the long held dream of re-imposing full-fledged Sharia in Syria is being realized, as acknowledged in an April 28, 2013 New York Times report.
My 12/24/12 essay included a December, 1947 State Department assessment of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (curiously, the report was still "classified," but I was able to obtain it with a Freedom of Information Act request). Written in an era before the twin scourges of debased educational standards and post-modern cultural relativism thoroughly crippled both the diplomatic corps' patriotism and intellectual capacity, the report provided these sobering, and remarkably prescient (or perhaps just timeless?) insights:
One of the strong points of the Brotherhood is the fact that its leaders, dangerous fanatics in American eyes, are respected by the Syrian people. Unwavering in purpose, the top men are all "good" Moslems and far more honest than most Syrian politicians.
The Brotherhood is an increasingly important organization in Syria and is of vital interest to the American observer because it plays a leading part in hammering anti-foreign sentiments into a population already basically suspicious of Western "Colonizers." ...It demands for Moslems to return to the old customs and traditions of Islam. Although recognized by the Government as a non-political association, in practice it [the Brotherhood] illustrates its strong opposition to the separation of state and religion by actively participating in politics...The Ikhwan al-Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood] is dedicated to reversing [the] secular trend and its success has not been negligible. The Brotherhood in Syria is a growing organization with an apparently assured future. The hysteria surrounding Palestine and the deep-seated popular dissatisfaction with the proposed United Nations settlement, supported by European and Western Powers, of that troublesome problem is exploitable by the Brotherhood. It has already been so exploited.
This then is the Moslem Brotherhood, an organization determined to reform the Arab World, built on faith in Islam, dedicated to the defeat of secularism and convinced that direct intercourse with foreigners is evil. It opposes and will continue to oppose Soviet Communism, British Imperialism, and American colonization believing these derogatory words to reflect the true aims of the powers and acknowledging no good from any of them. Growing rapidly, capitalizing on the Palestine hysteria, and respected by the populace, the Brotherhood is a force to watch in Syrian politics.
Fast forward from December 1947 to May 28, 2013 and this NY Times report which puts the lie to a--indeed any significant--fighting "secular" Syrian opposition to the (Baathist) Assad regime.
In Syria's largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce. Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government. Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.