The role of the army during the crisis and beyond

The Syrian army got evolved in the Syrian crisis at an early stage, as it has not only preserved the authority of the state, but it has been targeted as well less than a month into the crisis, starting from the village of Al-Baida, Southeast Banias, and it is is the key player on the ground events, today. At the same time, this institution was a centre for media and political focus since the army entered the city of Daraa until today. The questions presented by the crisis with regards to the army remained confined to the security work, and perhaps its political role in Syria’s modern history was missed, or even of being a hub of sovereignty as a result of the geopolitical position of Syria.

The majority of Syrians developed an opinion of the Syrian army that saw a pioneering and brave role in what it is doing, especially during harsh and unfamiliar circumstances of a war. This passion was reflected whether through media campaigns or social networking media. On the other hand, a certain group of the opposition, especially those that advocate military action, found in it a mere supporter of the regime, while other segments see the army as a ”factious” institution.

With the situation developing and the dominance of the military situation over the crisis, many factions of the opposition started to consider the army an entirely hostile party, and to use certain expressions like “liberated areas”, which denote a detached perception of the military institution. On the other hand, other segments of the opposition believe that all combat operations don’t absolve the army from explaining the nature of its operations and justifying a number of violations. There is a failure in creating a connection that preserves the institution’s position as a national army that defends the country’s unity. Moreover, the spread of some videos, regardless of its reliability, show flagrant violations and no investigations or accountabilities have come into the open, although the crisis demands transparency amid a conflict and  unverified charges.

Practically speaking, the opposition’s narrative didn’t provide a full vision of the military institution. In fact, there are some indications in the opposition statements that what they wanted was for the army to remain neutral. All in all, the narrative regarding the army goes into two main dimensions:

The first is to regarded it through the crisis dimensions. Politically speaking , there is no “non- security state”, as those who deal with this subject view that talking about ”the security state” is to damage and diminish the capabilities and of the Syrian army and security forces or exhaust them, and therefore damage Syrian sovereignty and security. According to this approach, the army and security forces have the right to use maximum force against the ongoing armed rebellion. On the other hand, a number of the opposition factions wishes practically of totally neutralising the army from any political issue, thus creating an opposite ”doctrine”   to what the military institution has followed, perhaps since the independence.

The second is about looking at the army through the perspective that has been evolved throughout the “armament”, which wasn’t about using weapons and violence only, but trying to break the legitimacy of the army by organizing armed ” factions” called the “free army”. According to this dimension, the opposition itself was divided according to its position towards the emergence of the ” free army” as a “concept” rather than a unified organization. The faction that supports the armament gave political legitimacy for ” the armed opposition ” as being the vanguard that can restructure the army organisation all over again.

It’s obvious, through the opposition’s narrative, that the vision of the military institution is to take the army out of the political game, which is not possible in light of the struggle with ” Israel “, because the start of the intervention by the military institution into political affairs was through this subject, after only a few years of independence. Therefore, the position with regards to the military institution is pursuant to the opposition’s approach in dealing with ” Israel”

Discussing the army occupies a huge space in media , particularly with regards to the battles, and is the subject of the media campaigns from both sides. However, the depth of the matter remains absent, because any new formulation of its role requires not only setting legal limits for the overlapping of the military and political institutions, but changes in the structure and finding different orientations for it, as well.

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  1. AC

    “The Syrian army …but it has been targeted as well less than a month into the crisis, starting from the village of Al-Baida, Southeast Banias…”

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