6 Sept 2013

Who are the moderates in Syria? A so-so guide to easy-going rebels

The US Secretary of State John Kerry has asserted that moderate rebel groups in Syria are growing in influence, contrary to the common perception that the rebels are dominated by Islamic extremists. In order to get to the bottom of this we commissioned an in-depth study that has concluded that moderates do indeed represent the majority of the Syrian rebels. They are however constantly over-shadowed by the jihadis who frequently do rebel-ish things like fighting battles and shrieking while waving rifles in the air. The moderates are prevented by an innate sense of decorum from acting in this buffoonish way but that doesn’t mean that they are not a significant, albeit subtle, force within Syria. 

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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  1. I am disappointed your tally does not include the "la vache Kerry" - a purely francophile group that gathers over French cheese and French wine. Apparently, their bylaws are so permissive one can drink RobesBiere during the said meetings. A drink whose motto is "un gout a faire perdre la tete"...

    1. QUI RIT. Don't insult real cows by comparing them to that warmongering lunatic.

  2. What about the Vegan Liver Eating brigade...

  3. i once read a frenchman's opinion that multiculturalism is not cooking couscous - multiculturalism is stoning adulteresses to death

    but on a more pleasant cuisine-related note, i would like to bring to your attention, and the attention of all moderate islamists

    QUEEN OF MONTHS: An Eco-halal Sufi Vegan/Vegetarian Ramazan Cookbook



Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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