“There can be no military intervention in Syria”: Interview with Syrian activist Edward Dark

Edward's city, Aleppo, in February this year.

Edward’s city, Aleppo, in February this year.

Edward Dark is the pseudonym for an activist living in Alleppo, Syria. Involved with the uprising against the Assad regime since its beginnings, he has been a vocal critic of both the regime and extremism in the opposition. He is also an avid user of social media and a testament to the power that Twitter has had in the Arab Spring, regularly posting news and updates on the situation in his city, despite internet outages and power cuts. Having followed his Twitter updates and writing for a while now, I wrote to him asking if I could ask him some questions.

Obviously Edward Dark is a pseudonym and you can’t reveal too much about your identity. But could you tell me how long you’ve been involved in the Syrian revolution and what prompted you to get involved?

I was involved since the very beginning, in small protests and online activism, as well as media – spreading news and videos about was going on. Later I got involved in aid work as refugees started arriving in increasing numbers to Aleppo.

Why Edward Dark as a name?

it’s just an amalgam of various fictional character names in novels and short stories I used to read.

Is the situation in Aleppo improving at all? What is the political situation in the city, and who are the main rebel groups in Aleppo and how do they behave?

Well, the situation in the city is getting progressively worse. Rebels are besieging the city, and have launched a fresh offensive to try to capture it entirely. This is causing a lot of fighting and civilian casualties as you can imagine.

There’s a shortage of all types of basics and services over here. There are too many rebel groups to count, some are home grown, others are Islamists backed from abroad and foreign fighters. Most rebel groups here are either too extremist, or are just basically criminal in nature which means a lot of human rights abuses and crime is going on.

In this piece you wrote about the betrayal of the Syrian revolution and the descent of the country into sectarian violence. Who would you argue is most responsible for this and how do you think the revolution could/could have been saved?

Obviously the regime deliberately stoked violence and sectarianism in order to crush the uprising and drive people to take up arms. A lot of peaceful activists were killed or arrested or fled the country, which meant the extremists got the upper hand in the uprising. Foreign influence, especially from Gulf countries also helped stoke violence and sectarianism too. They helped finance the extremist groups who adhered to their political agendas.

It was recently announced that the death toll in Syria has reached 100,000. What do think would be the ideal response of the international community to this? Are you in favour of western military intervention in Syria? And what do you think the outcome might be of the supposed peace talks that are in the works?

There can be no military intervention in Syria, it just wont work and will make the situation worse. With the current state of affairs, if the regime collapses the country will be split and large parts of it will fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and criminal warlords. The only way out is a UN mandated and enforced peace settlement between the major parties in this conflict. This is our only hope.

What is your assessment of the international media’s coverage of the war in your country?

Very bad, in the case of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, they have deliberately misreported and disseminated false or misleading information about Syria in line with their governments’ political goals. CNN isn’t very good either. BBC and BBC Arabic has been the most consistent and impartial in their coverage of Syria.

Give us a brief overview on your impressions of the main opposition groups.

They are hopelessly divided and incompetent, furthermore they have no credibility on the ground with rebel groups or local activists. Some are even merely stooges of the regional powers that prop them up and pay their salaries.

What is the feeling among Syrians about the mood of the regime compared to, say, a year ago?

In some areas, like Damascus and Aleppo, the regime has seen growing support among the population previously sympathetic to the uprising as compared to a year ago. This has been due to the increasing crimes of the rebels and the chaos and destruction their military campaign has brought.

One more question on the broader region. What do you make of the situation in Egypt? Was the military right to remove Mohammed Morsi and how do you think the situation will develop over the next few months?

I can’t really comment on Egypt. While I’m against the rise of political Islam in the region, I’m also wary of a military rule. It’s just two types of fascism. A long term stable civilian democracy is what is needed.

Thank you very much.

Edward is brilliant on Twitter – you can follow him here. He also writes occasionally for Al-Monitor.

One comment

  1. Sylvia Ismailsmail

    Hi Oliver,
    I have just come across your blog thanks to WordPress highlighting the issue of censorship. Interesting interview with EDark, but he doesn’t say why he got involved actively, in answer to your first question – perhaps it is obvious from what he goes on to say. About Egypt, he is rightly discreet but you may be interested that, overwhelmingly, the Egyptians I speak to have willingly traded “freedom” and the growth of a democratic system for security. Similar problems to what ED mentions, but clearly not so grave a situation – people have felt very insecure, lost faith in the elected govt. (after 12 months!!), and are, in so many cases I have come across, very wary of political Islam. Also, there was widespread and growing anxiety about the position of Christians in Egypt – sectarianism is of deep concern. Looking back over 5,000+ years of Egyptian history, I guess they are pursuing a well-established path… For the future, more of the same.
    Best wishes,
    Sylvia Ismail

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