Rebels Should Not Become “Mercenaries in Non-National Projects”

Despite the obstacles to accessing information on military support for Syrian rebels, what has emerged so far is enough to determine that the international community and some Arab states are seeking to weaken the Free Syrian Army and its various brigades, which are moved by a purely national project, in favor of al-Qaeda supporters or other less fanatic movements, which nonetheless have the same general thinking and are bound by policies drawn by non-Syrian players.

Support for the rebels requires states, especially given the flurry of cash and ammunition funneled to the aforementioned sides.

But while this is true, many of the battalions that are not subject to these policies stand fast nonetheless. Some, thanks to the support of various individuals, are still on the frontlines, albeit with the minimum available capacities. Others have nothing left but limited choices, the best of which remains bitterer than death itself: face defeat or join groups whose vision for the present, future and general identity of the conflict in Syria differ radically from one’s own.

These factions are not characterized by exemplary organization, effort or field performance. Yet they have two key characteristics: their pure national project, not subject to any side or movement, and the fact that they have stood fast with this project despite all the disappointments, frustrations and temptations and remained faithful to their founding principles since they decided to take up arms against the criminal regime.

The variety of the scarce sources of support for these factions is one of the main reasons why they cannot coalesce into a broader, unifying organizational framework. Laws in other states prevent the establishment of public and transparent frameworks for collecting donations to assist these groups in a way that would ensure that these donations are justly distributed and not subject to conditions that violate the Syrian national project. The “organized” opposition was equally unable to establish a framework for such support for reasons that are known to everyone.

Still, this would not impede the formation of a committee composed of Syrians from all around the world, people with a clean record, conscience and mind, in order to provide the rebels with a modicum of well-studied support according to geographical divisions, size and performance of field factions.

The objective of such support is not to provide ammunition. Instead, it can provide what is currently far more important: support for rebel fighters and their families.

Most of the purely nationalist factions use whatever little support they can get to buy ammunition and do not pay any salaries to their members. Nor do they provide aid for the families who lost their income providers as men and youths went to fight.

Modest though it may be, such support would help to remove the “siege” imposed on the rebels by presumed “conspirators.” It would help them stand fast not only on their respective fronts, but also on their national policy line, which represents a guarantee for the future in the face of al-Qaeda and other movements. Such support would enable rapprochement between these factions and perhaps make it easier for them to coalesce within the framework of a broad organization, which would in turn allow a form of coordination that so far remains almost nonexistent.

These steps may seem extremely naïve when compared to the entanglements of reality, but they should at least prevent thousands of rebels from becoming mercenaries for non-national projects.