If you follow the Syrian crisis close enough, using real sources, not fake mainstream sources, you should notice something amazing happening in Syria. The Syrian reconciliation and amnesty process, headed by opposition minister Ali Haidar, is proving to be a very effective solution to the terrorism challenge in many different places. In the past 3 years, thousands of people who were fighting with the terrorist groups against the Syrian government surrendered their arms and resumed normal life. Many of them joined the Syrian army and started fighting for Syria, not for a Salafist ideology.
Even during active military operations, the Syrian army treats the terrorists as potential targets for reconciliation. According to the Syrian army rules of engagement, military action is only permissible after all other option of resolving the conflict are exhausted in a specific area. This is why the Syria army besieges areas for extended periods and keeps negotiating with the terrorists as long as possible to avoid active armed conflict.
In a recent interview with Europ1 and TF1, President Assad said “For us, whoever wants to give up his armament is not a terrorist anymore, according to the law.” So, In Syria, a Syrian who joined the terrorist groups can become a normal Syrian citizen just by giving up his arms. This chance is given to each and every terrorist before any combat. And even if a terrorist insists on fighting, the Syrian rules of engagement state clearly that the goal is to free the land and the civilians under terrorist control, not to eliminate the terrorists. That’s why the Syrian Army allows safe exit under his protection to terrorists from the areas they want to give up to other terrorist controlled areas.
The reconciliation process is based on a very solid foundation, which is the Syrian national identity. During the past 11 years since 2006, The media driven divide and conquer campaigns failed to segregate the Syrian people into hating communities. Millions of Syrians insisted on their one common identity, as Syrians, and rejected the identities that the media parachuted on them, like Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, and others. If you go to any of the heavily crowded Syrian cities, you will see people from all over Syria’s religions, sects, ethnicities, and political affiliation living together in peace as one common group. All of them share the same suffering, all of them have the same life challenges, all of them belong to the same community. Moreover, When the people of Aleppo were freed from terrorist control, they showed that 4 years of terrorist control could not demean their Syrian identity.
The Syrian government has taken the appeal to our unifying identity a step forward during the crisis. The above quote from President Assad means that our fight with the terrorists is not because of what they are, but because of what they do. They are, they have been, and they can still be normal citizens of their countries. They have been indoctrinated to follow the Wahhabi ideology, and our fight is not with them personally, but with the forces that indoctrinated, armed, and pushed them to our land. We don’t need to kill them in order to regain control of an area or establish stability and safety for civilians. We can win if we can bring them back to their true identity as members of their own communities and nations. Syria has demonstrated to the world how to do that, and that it is doable.
While Syrians have rejected the tactics of divide and conquer, and developed unifying opposing tactics against them, I see that many people in the world are still falling prey to divide and conquer. In Europe people are being divided by politics, and the divide between left and right is expanding for the benefit of those who are manufacturing it. In the US, we can see the same political divide growing, and other divides being manufactured.
So, if you are a leftist wondering what to do about Nazis or neo-Nazis, look at what we do about terrorists in Syria. If you are a rightist wondering what to do about communists, look at what we do in Syria. If you are a European nationalist and you are thinking about the threat of Russia, look how we handle threats in Syria. If you are concerned about the others, look how we treat the others to become our own in Syria.
The greatest weapon that Syria used in this war is the appeal to unifying identities. That is the best weapon against divide and conquer, and that is the greatest lesson that the world can learn from the Syrian crisis.