|January 21, 2013
For many lucky young Syrians, their country's civil war is so routine that they've forgotten what life was like before it started and so confusing that they're not sure what they believe in any more. We say "lucky" because the Syrian youth who recently opened up to The Los Angeles Times about their disillusionment in the Syrian revolution were only able to do so because, for one reason or another, they'd been spared from the violence. And it's been a very violent war so far. Just under two months before its two-year anniversary, the Syrian conflict's death toll is north of 60,000 according to the United Nations and well over half a million refugees have fled their homes to escape the violence.
The curious part of the situation is that young Syrians aren't necessarily afraid of the violence that's crippled their country. Some are more scared of what's to come if the Syrian rebels win. "Many don't know who they hate most, the opposition or regime, because neither is offering a way forward. As they see it, they are both part of a system producing an absurd level of violence and destruction," Peter Harling, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, explained to The LA Times. "A lot of people have paid a price and are not sure what it is for anymore." Or to put it in the words of a young Syrian who's seen his friends splinter off, some joining the brutal Assad loyalists and others joining the just-as-brutal and increasingly extremist Syrian rebels. "I don't really care if I die or not, but if I live, I will be a stranger," he said. "Maybe I have always been, but I feel we'll never come back to how we were."
The disdain is understandable. The situation in Syria is frustrating for everyone, for reasons beyond the blind violence. Despite calls from even its closest allies to allow for a political transition if not step down entirely, President Bashar al-Assad remains strikingly steadfast in his quest to hold on to power. In his first public speech in over half a year, Assad called the opposition "terrorists" and vowed not to negotiate with them as an audience of government officials and university students chanted, "With our souls, with our blood, we defend you, Assad." Meanwhile, however, a big population of educated, mostly middle class young Syrians still oppose Assad, but they're growing increasingly worried that the rebels might actually be terrorists. After all, the Syrian opposition does count groups like Al Nasra Front, a group with ties to Al Qaeda, amongst its allies.