There has been a strange shift in international political circles and prominent satellite channels, some of them Arab, in the description of what is going on in Syria. It is no longer the “revolution” in Syria, but rather the “war” in Syria as it becomes obvious in news reports that give an around-the-clock update of the developments of the situation.
The title “war in Syria” could be correct theoretically. There are fierce battles that destroy whole cities and there is daily systematic killing of civilians. There are also thousands who flee their homes and flock to refugee camps on the borders with Turkey or Jordan in a way that brings to mind the tragedy of Bosnians in the 1990s.
But this shift from “revolution” to “war” seems to be quite a sly one. War means two parties are fighting over land or over something they differ over. War also denotes some sort of equality in power between the two fighting parties.
The most important point is that when those two parties are from the same country it becomes a civil war. If this is applied to Syria with its ethnic and sectarian mosaic, the popular revolution in which all Syrians are supposed to share a common goal will be eventually turned into something similar to the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s.
The word “war” serves the Syrian regime and accentuates the impression it has been trying to give on both the local and international levels: that what is going on in Syria is a sectarian war.
The term “war” could also lead to international division over offering support to the Syrian revolutionaries. It is possible in this case that the Iran-Russia-China camp would expand to include more countries that support the Syrian regime. Other foreign powers might choose to remain neutral towards what they would perceive as “two warring parties.” All this is bound to deal a fatal blow to the Syrian people and to create of them everlasting victims of that scorched earth policy.
The writer is the Deputy Chief Editor of Al Arabiya Net. The article was first published in the Egypt-based al-Gumhuria on Sept. 10