Newton’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and an opposite reaction.”, however, human beings cannot be subjected to this law, as they are driven by emotions, which cause their reactions to an action to be more powerful and stronger than the action itself.
As SDF captured Manbej city, several pictures were posted to social media showing what was described as Manbej families’ reaction to the liberation of their city from Daesh. The pictures have sparked a controversy, as some doubted their liability and authenticity. A neutral study of the issue will lead us into two sections.
The first section: The action that led to the civilian reaction was Daesh brutal atrocities and extreme laws brought to areas under its control. Deir Ezzor is a precise example of where Daesh committed all kinds of bloody actions, ranging from mass executions to beheadings and stoning to death. The province has been occupied by the group for around two years now, during which civilians have suffered the worst kinds of terror and tyranny, which have surpassed what civilians in Manbej went through to an incomparable degree.
The perpetrators of human rights violations in Deir Ezzor are the locals who pledged their allegiance to the group, which Daesh arranged to happen this way for several reasons, among them are holding the locals accountable for the violations against their own people while foreign Daesh members would not be blamed.
The second section: To maintain the loyalties of the locals because the withdrawal of Daesh from their areas mean that they would be held accountable for their inhumane actions and be subjected to attempts of revenge, that’s why we have seen them defending the group with all means at their disposal, as their fate is connected with that of Daesh.
Daesh has used other elements from neighbouring territory to take over other areas in order to provoke resentment and hatred between the locals. Given the fact that the social tribal structure of the society in Deir Ezzor is based on kinship, meaning that the occurrence of unjustified acts of revenge would lead to a bloodbath in the region.
To stay in control of its held territory, Daesh relies on spreading fear and terror among civilians, warning them that a new foreign force might control its areas and worsen the civilian situation.
The people of Deir Ezzor will not accept their province to be governed by another military faction, and this is due to ethnical, social and moral reasons. A liberation by the locals will be welcomed. The presence of many Deir Ezzor fighters in areas stretching from Qalamoun to Idlib and Aleppo, explain why the province is still occupied by the group.
The other section is the intellectual reaction, which might be more dangerous than the reaction on the ground that can be contained. The religious reaction to Daesh atrocities is the most dangerous. Those affected by Daesh terrorism, including those humiliated before their families, the tortured and the exiled, still have a strong resentment that can only be removed by spilling blood. It is very difficult to handle such reaction, as it has deep roots in the religious way they were fought with, during which they were called non-believers and sometimes apostates etc. This reaction in its essence is somehow similar to the European reaction after the Church wars.
The generations, who have been raised outside the frontiers of the region, and whose concepts have changed over time, will bring us to another danger due to the feelings of resentment and hatred ingrained in them, which are the result of the forced displacement they were subjected to in Syria, as well as alienation and integration in the new community.
The solutions that should be presented may be limited to certain extent in light of the repressive rule of Daesh and feeling of humiliation and inferiority of those who fled hell in its held areas. We should at least think of a framework to mitigate the reaction of these civilians, which might be more violent than the military operations themselves.
Therefore, we should from now work to solve the possible reactions through specific staff that would attempt to lighten the accumulated hatred and resentment, and, at the same time, establish committees that would be in charge of immediate accountability to reduce the feelings of hatred and humiliation some civilians have been affected by. For instance, establishment of courts that would fairly issue judgements concerning urgent complains and accurately and justly implement their decisions. Establishment of social organizations away from the kinship norm that might cause the society to collapse.
Daesh might still resort to revenge acts in areas of Deir Ezzor to better its ugly face as it did in the past, where it spread rumours that the ones who committed the atrocities in the province were the locals themselves, deepening the issue.