Friday, February 15, 2013

Why Syria’s Islamists Are Gaining


Quote:
“The people who believe in a strict Islam will do anything, fight anybody, do anything for Islam,” a barber who recently reopened his shop told me. “They are like the U.S. Special Forces. They like death more than life.”
Interesting quote from the barber.  But I would put fighting for life or death the way the Korean National hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin puts it  “The soldier who fights to death never dies, but the soldier who fights for existence never truly exists.


February 14, 2013

Why Syria’s Islamists Are Gaining
By J. MALCOLM GARCIA
ALEPPO, Syria

A YOUNG fighter for the Free Syrian Army sat at a checkpoint on a couch taken from an abandoned house. He cradled his Kalashnikov and waited on the empty street for a car to inspect, or a pedestrian to pat down. If only the future of Syria would reveal itself to him as easily.

The rebels in the Free Syrian Army don’t doubt that they will drive President Bashar al-Assad from power — eventually — but they have no idea what will happen afterward: Democracy? An Islamic republic? An Islamic dictatorship? The fighters I met on a recent visit here were unable to articulate any long-term political vision.

While the young rebel sat at his checkpoint, and while Americans continue to debate whether to intervene in Syria or just look the other way, Islamist militants are exploiting the uncertainty here. They have a clear mission: imposing an Islamist state in place of Mr. Assad.

“The people who believe in a strict Islam will do anything, fight anybody, do anything for Islam,” a barber who recently reopened his shop told me. “They are like the U.S. Special Forces. They like death more than life.”

The grass-roots supporters of the Islamists whom I spoke with were a mixture of devout fundamentalist Muslims, returning merchants struggling to make ends meet, parents of dead fighters for the Free Syrian Army, and some of the fighters themselves.

They insisted that they wanted only a “pure” Islam, not a Taliban-style government, to replace the Assad family’s regime, which has ruled Syria since 1971. But they offered examples of purity that sounded Talibanesque: Women must cover their entire bodies. Everyone must pray five times a day. Dancing should be prohibited. Differing interpretations of Islam would be tolerated, they say, as long as those beliefs remained “a secret” — a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
(Continued at the link below)

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