Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions Of A Syrian Activist: “I Want Assad To Win”

Mike Giglio

ANTAKYA, Turkey — The activist threw himself into Syria’s revolution from its early days. He organized protests, documented the deadly crackdowns and disseminated the news, risking his life. When the opposition took up arms, he worked closely with rebel groups, helping to spread their message of resistance and taking toll of the war’s carnage in places journalists couldn’t reach. He has won widespread recognition for his work, and he remains deeply involved in the struggle today — though he no longer calls it a revolution. In fact, he thinks it needs to end.

The activist works under his real name, but he requested anonymity to give the candid assessment of the conflict laid out in these remarks, which are compiled from a recent in-depth interview. Asked to speak on the record, he deliberated with friends and colleagues and ultimately declined. He says he fears a backlash: His words could be used to undermine his work, or he could be misunderstood. He also cites safety concerns. But he believes that his message, unpopular among his revolutionary colleagues, is one they need to hear — that their revolution has ended; that a dangerous wave of Islamic extremism has welled up in its place; that they should work to stop the fighting now; and that if they can’t, they should hope it’s Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who wins.

“To simply say I want Assad to win would be a disaster if anyone heard it,” the activist says. “But we’ve created a monster. For too long on the ground, there was too much focus on the crimes the regime was committing and not enough on our own problems. And addressing these problems was always being delayed.

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