The Egyptian liberals who played a big part in the insurrection that toppled Hosni Mubarak now find themselves marginalized, pushed into a minor role in parliament and reluctantly withdrawing from the electoral commission.
A similar situation has befallen Syria’s liberal, mostly peaceful protesters, who led last summer’s protest marches but have since been sidelined by the Free Syrian Army’s violent revolt. The story of one of Homs’ first protest leaders, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor, is a telling example:
“In September last year I had been arrested again by the regime for organizing protests,” says Mr. Alloush, speaking on a cafe terrace in Beirut. “After they released me, I ran into a group of men I knew as members of the Free Syrian Army. I walked up to them and screamed: “You guys have stolen our revolution! You are just as bad as the shabiha,” the pro-regime militia in Syria.
The rebels kept Alloush for four days, after which they told him not to show his face in Homs again. . . .
In February, Alloush went back to Homs clandestinely. He made the rounds of the city’s mosques to persuade the imams there to preach against the use of violence. When the FSA found out he was in town he fled to neighboring Lebanon once again.
The FSA, made up mostly of deserting soldiers, joined the revolutionary protests last year and added firepower to the shouts of “Down with Assad!”
Nonviolence can achieve great political changes, but that route is not easy to follow, and it becomes harder the longer a revolution continues in the face of an intractable or despicable regime.
Read the rest on Via Media, the American Interest blog.