watching syrias nightmares of war
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today
Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today

Watching Syria's nightmares of war

Egypt Today, egypt today

watching syrias nightmares of war

Tom Rollins

This week a handful of videos have shed new light on the true nature of the Syrian opposition. The video that grabbed the headlines most of all – and understandably so – showed Abu Sakkar, member of the rebel Farouq Brigade, apparently cutting out a regime soldier’s organs before biting into the heart. “I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers!” Abu Sakkar says to the camera. “Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!” The rebel, part of a militia previously engaged in illegal cross-border shelling on Lebanese villages, blamed the soldier for “violating” Sunni women. He has not apologised or shown any sign of remorse. For those who have seen it, the video conjures up the worst nightmares of war – medieval bloodthirst, Apocalypse Now-style madness, a vaudevillian symbolism of death. It also demonstrates the severity of Syria’s sectarian crisis. If Sunni rebels are capable of eating the entrails of an Alawite soldier, can the state of Syria feasibly exist in its present state? However, more important than this are the two videos jihadists – notably operating under the newly al-Qaeda-approved title, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – released this week, showing the executions of pro-Assad Syrians supposedly responsible for the nightmarish Banyas massacre in Latakia. One video from Raqqa shows jihadists with customary black flags occupying a city square while three blindfolded men sit slumped waiting in silence for a bullet in the back of the head. After a short read-out statement, they get exactly that. “Although videos have been posted from groups claiming to be part of The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham as far as I’m aware this is the first time that a statement like this has been made by The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham inside Syria,” blogger Brown Moses said in response to the video. “It seems to be a very significant event, almost a coming out party for the organisation in Syria, and executing three men for alleged crimes they had no direct hand in seems to be making a statement of intent.” Watching these videos can feel like a morbid, even sadistic, pursuit but it is an important one nonetheless. I never watched the video of Saddam Hussein’s hanging – out of disgust or fear or some faux sense of dignity – but maybe I should have. There is something indescribable about watching someone being killed in real life. It cuts through years of Hollywood representations and misrepresentations in an instant until you are left simply looking at a dead body lying face down in a pool of human blood. If we are going to attempt to understand the role of jihadists like The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham inside Syria, then we have to face up to what these groups are doing firsthand. On the one hand Jabhat al-Nusra and co are following the well-worn Islamist line of offering social programmes, food and stability in a time of chaos, while on the other, they are ruthlessly enforcing their interpretation of Sharia law. A video more often than not means proof. It might be hard to watch sometimes but after two years, well over 80,000 deaths and millions more displaced, the Syrian conflict could do with a bit more of that.

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watching syrias nightmares of war watching syrias nightmares of war

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