The Associated Press reports: Most of the rebels fighting government forces in the city of Aleppo fit a specific mold: They’re poor, religiously conservative and usually come from the underdeveloped countryside nearby.
They bring to the battle their fury over years of economic marginalization, fired by a pious fervor, and they say their fight in the civil war is not only against President Bashar Assad but also the elite merchants and industrialists who dominate the city and have stuck by the regime. The rebels regard this support for the government to be an act of betrayal.
The blend of poverty, religious piety and anger could define the future of Aleppo, and perhaps the rest of Syria, if the rebels take over the country’s largest city, which is also its economic engine. They may be tempted to push their own version of Islam, which is more fundamentalist than what is found in the city. Their bitterness at the business class may prompt them to seek ways of redistributing the wealth.
“Those who have money in Aleppo only worry about their wealth and interests when we have long lived in poverty,” said Osama Abu Mohammed, a rebel commander who was a car mechanic in the nearby town of Beyanon before he joined the fight.
“They have been breast-fed cowardice and their hearts are filled with fear. With their money, we could buy weapons that enable us to liberate the entire city in a week,” he said. [Continue reading…]