Below is a brief guide to the main moderate rebel groups in Syria and their ideological inclinations. We hope it will be useful in acquainting the world with the moderates who are, by definition, quite retiring. It’s not even clear why moderates would join a revolution, but let’s not pull on that string.
The Roses of Damascus Brigade
The ‘Roses’, as they are commonly referred to, are so moderate they only fight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In the words of their leader Abu Randa, there’s more to life than revolutions, that’s why they like to dedicate the rest of the week to yoga, stamp collecting and spending time with the family.
The roses’ main ideological inclination is relative moderation, which they apply to all areas of their politics and life. They drink their tea warm for example, which is frowned upon in many areas of Syria and has cost them many supporters. Yet, nobody said that revolution is easy.
The Red Unicorn Brigade
The red unicorns are the true visionaries and utopians of the Syrian revolution. They are the most radical moderate group intellectually, even though their fighting skills leave much to be desired. The unicorns’ slogan is ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ which their vicious enemies have attempted to portray as a rhetorical question.
The unicorns believe in a bright future for Syria, a democratic, non-specific, non-committal political system that is inclusive and participatory, and various other synonyms approved by the EU’s central committee on acceptable language. The unicorns’ central belief is that one day everything will be fine.
The Levantine Rainbow Brigade
One of the most diverse and inclusive groups in Syria, the Rainbows are a true symbol of the original values of the Syrian revolution. Openness, plurality and equality represent the central ideas of this group, whose membership sometimes rises to double digits.
They often shame their radical opponents by appropriating their language and using it in a positive manner. For example, they say things like ‘we are on a jihad of love’, and ‘let’s behead hate’. It’s not quite clear why, but those slogans are seen as irritating and vaguely hippy-ish by many Syrians. Yet, as the Rainbows say, it’s better to be irritating and be heard than to be ignored like a passing cloud.
Islam Is Moderation Brigade
There are many Islamic moderates in Syria, and Islam is Moderation is probably the most influential among them. Established by a moderate cleric called Sheikh Ziad Fater, the group appeals to Syrian youth who tend to like Fater’s modern approach to religion. MIS’s opponents have labelled this approach ‘Islam Lite’ and have vowed to send the Sheikh to hell if they can lay their hands on him. Statements like this show the vibrant and robust exchange of views within the Syrian revolution, which is necessary for a democratic future.
All Together Now
If ‘We are the World’ were a political party it would All Together Now. This group of moderate young Syrian revolutionaries has spread widely in certain parts of the Aleppo neighbourhood they originated from, and promise to play a significant role in Syria’s future. They are distinct from other moderate group because of their emphasis on ‘togetherness’, a concept that underpins their political philosophy.
The more radical extremist groups either don’t know anything about All Together Now, or they are viciously opposed to them because of their message of togetherness which doesn’t sound monotheistic enough. Yet, ATN continues to undermine the extremists’ hateful message with the many workshops that it holds, which according to the group are ‘more powerful than guns’. Time will tell.
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