The dynamics by which the Syrian Revolution brought to prominence a class of political and military leaders are highly indicative of the nature of this complex conflict. Yet they are also some of the least well-understood aspects of the war. For many of the “elite” among Syria’s political opposition— such as the liberals of the 1950s, the ideologues of the 1960s and 1970s, and the leftist youth of the 1980s and 1990s—their political, social, and class-based discourse, ideologies, and allegiances come from the “old world” of Syria. The youth field commanders leading direct hostilities against the regime forces and its allied sectarian militias are perhaps the only ones with a full understanding of the complex developments that took place over the fifteen years before the revolution, and over the past five years of uprising. This article aims to investigate their political, social, and symbolic worlds, and deconstruct their political present and foreseeable future.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.