Syria has finally joined the Arab spring, with thousands of its citizens taking to the streets nationwide, seeking reforms or even regime change. The Syrian government has been relentless in its response, unleashing a very violent crackdown and shelling on its own citizens and towns.
Caught in this political and bloody mess-as has often been the case-are the Assyrians of Syria. Some have sided with the government, some have called for reforms, while others have remained silent and neutral for the most part. Those who protested, or at least were hinted to have sided with the opposition, have been dealt with by the Syrian authorities already. Just a few weeks ago, several members of the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Qamishly were arrested by the feared Syrian police with many items in their office also confiscated (they have some been released.)
The question is, what should Assyrians’ stand be? to side with the opposition and call for reforms and regime change? or should they side with the regime?
Either one sounds very risky, with lots of implications and consequences, in a country like Syria.
-To side with the government: this may sound like a safe bet, to enjoy government’s protection in the future. But this is assuming that the government doesn’t fall anytime soon. Not to mention, this will also alienate other groups in Syria who are anti-regime.
-To side against the regime: to side with the opposition, calling for the toppling of the regime, and making it loud and clear? this could bring the wrath and anger of the Syrian government and its ruthless security forces. Assyrians have to play this card safely and carefully.
-To remain neutral, on the side: this may already be the stand being taken by many Assyrians in the country. They realize that siding with either one will cost them eventually. So it is best to stay quiet and with a low profile until things resolve themselves.
It is clear that only by ‘staying neutral’ will Assyrians get some stability and assurances against any future escalation in violence. But this position also makes them weak and unable to take a clear stand which could also cost them in the future, especially if the government is toppled and the opposition starts forming a government based on the various ethnic groups in the country.
Ironically, and after you analyze all the possible scenarios, it is a good thing after all, for Assyrians to be for, against and with no stand against the regime, all at the same time. This way, you will have your own representation in any outcome.
But whatever happens, Assyrians in Syria should demonstrate their love and loyalty to the country before anything else. If you don’t want to be seen as standing with one side versus another, you should at least show your loyalty and love for the country to help you score some political points. No, I am not asking them to show fake love, but if they do care about their country, let them show it and make it clear to the rest of the people.