The Free Syrian Army, formed out of nothing more then disjointed packs of armed men attempting to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad last July, has recently come under attack by Western media. Many now blindly and ignorantly claim that these soldiers are little more then terrorists.
Raid al-Asaad, a defected colonel of the Syrian Air Force and leader of the FSA, stated that the two primary purposes of its formation were to attempt to ensure the protection of unarmed civilians and to ultimately oust President al-Assad. There would be a political agenda beyond this.
As noble as the cause may seem, many who are familiar with the social turbulence that has plagued the Middle East for hundreds of years remain speculative. With rumors emerging out of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations that al-Qaeda has come to the aid of the FSA, the international community has more reason then ever to doubt their intentions.
The FSA has used many strategies that have, in the minds of Americans, become undeniably terroristic. For instance, the FSA has used car bombings to attack al-Assad’s troops, advisors and cabinet members. While there have been car bombings targeting civilians, responsibility of these attacks has been claimed by Islamist radicals who have no ties to the FSA. Take note of the differences in the end goals of these attacks; one aims for liberation, and the other aims to insight fear.
Western media’s now claim that the civil war is little more then a secular struggle between the Sunni-dominated FSA and the Shiite regime, and other, more politically and culturally ignorant individuals, believe that the FSA is nothing more then a radical terrorist group. However, is being a radical in a time of radical change wrong?
Since when has a fight for freedom become an act of terrorism? The current regime, that has slaughtered thousands of protesters over the last 17 months, has committed more “acts of terror” then the resistance. According to the Associated Press, atrocities committed by the current regime has caused over 100,000 civilians to flee Syria this August alone.
Unfortunately, the FSA remains poorly supported by the West. According to The New Times, the U.S. has supported the FSA with antiaircraft and antitank missiles, and only recently has Britain agreed to supply the rebels with non-lethal equipment such as satellite phones, computers and body armor. However, the FSA, that has grown from an estimated 7,000 fighters in March to nearly 40,000 last August, still struggles immensely when fighting against al-Assad’s army of nearly 300,000 fully-armed soldiers.
While it is understandable why many countries wish to not become too heavily involved with the FSA, the Syrian uprising has many frightening parallels with the Afghan uprising in the 1980’s, and Western society cannot simply stand by as hundreds of thousands of people are forced out of their homes while young men stay behind to fight.
The Syrian people call for a democracy in which everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and everyone has the freedom to live life as they please. Who has the right to label the ones who fight for their dreams terrorists? Is this not the dream that has built the great democratic powers in the world today? Fighting for freedom is not just an American ideology; it is a human right. One man’s “terrorist” is another man’s freedom fighter, and another’s hero.