Nonviolence or NATO? Syria’s Protest Movement Starts to Split

Some Activists See NATO Intervention as Key to Libya-Style Regime Change

Its not that the Syrian protest movement has every been all that united on anything except the need to replace Bashar Assad, but the recent “victory” by the NATO-backed rebels in Libya has brought up a stark choice for Syrians about the future. Should they abandon non-violence in favor of NATO weapons and air strikes?

The pro-democracy activists are loudly against it, as are many long-standing activists with an eye on a peaceful revolution. Still, there are some that see Libya-style regime change not only as a way to fast-forward through the messy “oust Assad” portion, but also as a way to ensure their power post-regime.

Some argue it is inevitable, but mostly it is a question of how quickly the would-be rebels can convince NATO they represent the real “will of the people” and how quickly NATO can beat their way through Russian opposition for another regime change war.

One need only to go back five months to remember that Libya’s “rebel movement” wasn’t always a monolithic council arresting dissidents on the streets of Benghazi. At one time Libya too had a major protest movement and a lot of outspoken opponents of NATO meddling within it. Once the NATO meddling starts, however, their voices are drowned out (or carefully locked away in makeshift prisons) while the advocates of the war become NATO’s anointed replacement regime.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.