It is no secret that extremist groups did penetrate a part of the Syrian body for some time at one point in the past decade. Some ideas that were foreign to the Syrian mindset were found here and there.
As soon as the danger of these extremist groups increased at the beginning of 2014, the Syrians found themselves at a critical crossroads: accepting the theological rituals that the princes of these groups who did not understand anything of the values of human life imposed on them individually and in groups, or rejecting these “religious” manifestations extraneous to their civic life which do not resemble the social image on which they grew up through a long series of successive generations.
The vast majority of Syrians expressed their rejection of the takfiri ideas, and entered into open confrontations with the people who had such an ideology during the past years in order not to imbue the Syrian identity with the character of extremism, especially after they found themselves crammed into narrow corners.
Also, the Syrians’ confrontation with these extremist takfiri groups was not limited to the war confrontations that took place in some Syrian cities which ended with the defeat of these intrusive groups, despite their numerous attempts to penetrate the civil fabric, in order to create social incubators that believe in their dark ideas, and follow them blindly. Rather, the Syrians expressed their rejection of these groups by various means of expression since they already had a high dose of freedom of opinion, after demolishing the walls of fear that surrounded them before 2011.
Soon, those takfiri groups found themselves in a completely different reality from the one they were in before in the countries that they were able to penetrate, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as they lived for a long time in these two countries, despite international efforts to get rid of their danger, and their grave impact on regional and international peace and security.
There are 4 major factors that helped in the defeat of extremist groups.
“Syrians never sought to replace one tyrant with another.”Thaer Alnashef
First and most important is the Syrian mindset. Takfiriism was not able to last long in Syria as it was not able to penetrate the Syrian mind, or to get it stuffed with miserable takfiri ideas. Soon, those takfiri organizations, like ISIS and its sisters, began to retreat until its influence almost disappeared in Syria. Almost nothing of this ideology was left in the minds of people. This is due to historical and cultural reasons and the axiom that Syrians never sought to replace one tyrant with another. This is the fundamental cause that led to their complete defeat and retreat.
Second, the military ground battles that began after the international coalition forces announced the expulsion of extremist groups from north-eastern Syria, after they had taken these vast geographical areas as their fortified stronghold. Although foreign countries supported the war on terrorism from the air as part of their security strategies, they did not send their fighters to Syrian territory to confront them on the ground. Syrian fighters did as they embarked on fighting the fiercest battles against extremists.
Third, human rights activists helped in tracking the violations of takfiri groups, documenting their grave crimes, and presenting them to local and international public opinion which eventually led to the crystallization of complete conviction and popular consensus about the danger of these rogue groups.
Fourth comes awareness. The media and cultural efforts led to raising the level of awareness in people’s minds by alerting the danger of these groups, and their negative impact on the lives of the young generations that extremist groups tried to tamper with their minds and pollute them with toxic ideologies with perverted thought. As a result, the effect of these dark thoughts disappeared just like when daylight disperses the darkness of the night.
The aforementioned concerted factors led to the practical establishment of popular confrontation mechanisms, and then to the worst defeat of extremist ideology in Syria, despite its seizure of large areas of the country in a short period of time, but its defeat was much faster than its sudden appearance.
The Assad regime — which was mainly behind creating such groups to serve its propaganda machine that used to say the Syrian Uprising was an act of terrorists and extremists not freedom seekers — was the biggest loser as a result of the defeat of these fanatic groups.