The bakery massacre in the small town of Halfaya is just one of a thousand reasons why the Syrian regime is beyond redemption. The symbolism of bombing a group of people who queued for bread cannot possibly be expressed in words.
In its attempts to retain control over Damascus, the last of its military strongholds, the Syrian regime does not mind turning the capital into a bigger Halfaya and destroying all its buildings, monuments, markets, and institutions. When recalling what happened in the cities of Aleppo and Homs, fear for the fate of Damascus becomes all the more justifiable.
Within the past 21 months, the Syrian revolution has shifted from peaceful uprising to military resistance and from there managed to achieve remarkable progress on the ground even if at a very hefty price.
The biggest cost, however, would be the destruction of the presumed mind of the state and the society: the capital that documents the history of the Syrian people and preservers its memories. Yet, on second thoughts it becomes clear that the Syrian revolution is one of the heart rather than the mind. The limited contribution of the Syrian intelligentsia in the revolution made room for villages and small towns to step in where the elite from Damascus and Aleppo withdrew and the result was a tremendous flow of emotions that was materialized by a series of artistic and creative works.
In the middle of all this emerges a religious discourse that has not been subjected to any reform and that mainly focused on sectarian slogans. From here comes the fear that with the heart supplanting the mind, a lot of mistakes can be committed with good intentions. There are, in fact, several precedents in which demanding a right turned into a different form of tyranny. Hezbollah, which started with defending the villages of the Lebanese south then later became one of the major challenges facing the establishment of the Lebanese state, offers the best example. The same applies to Palestine where internal conflicts and terrorist operations undermined a cause that no one can dispute.
Those who rebelled in Russia in 1917 and voted against the old regime in Germany in 1933 were also victims, but their legitimate struggle developed into the creation of tyrannical entities that brought about war and destruction.
There is no doubt that the Syrian regime is the party to be held accountable for all this from the very start, yet this does not change the fact that a disaster is about to befall Syria and the entire Levant, one that is aggravated by the wide gap between the revolution’s heart and mind.
(Hazem Saghieh is a columnist at al-Hayat newspaper, where this article was first published Dec. 26, 2012)