The Rebels That Can Rattle The Regime

The regime is at its most brutal, but can a rising new threat finally topple it?


Frustrated by a lack of progress, and with the prospect of genuine change seemingly on the wane, the region is in severe distress. For three years now, it has been at the mercy of one of the most powerful forces it has ever seen.

They call it the regime.

Having first come to power in the 1970s, the regime is now the strongest it has been since the 1980s, arguably stronger. Eventually, in the 1990s, it was overthrown, and almost destroyed. But after years in the wilderness, just as a long dormant rural party was about to assert its control, in 2008 it unexpectedly reclaimed power, and, despite struggling to hold on to it during the years that followed, still managed to terrify its opponents. Since 2013, however, funded in part by a gambling addiction afflicting the region, the regime has tightened its grip, engaging in a cynical cycle of raising hopes of a fairer, more open existence by ostensibly tolerating dissent, only to summarily stamp it out just when it seems like genuine progress is around the corner.

The leader of the regime is a strategic genius,* whose tactical acumen is matched by a notorious temper, and whose forces are expert at bending the laws to their advantage, and sometimes breaking them, but usually managing to avoid any meaningful consequence. Supporters of the regime – an educated, wealthy minority residing mainly in the middle east of the region’s capital – celebrate its success as though it was their own. They can be heard boasting of the regime humiliating their rivals – or perhaps more accurately their playthings – through both physical and psychological torture. As beneficiaries of the regime, their self-satisfaction occasionally spills into the even more insidious false modesty, but their neighbours are powerless to do anything until there is change.

The judiciary purports to officiate and apply the law fairly and squarely, and it is true that statistically, about half of all decisions concerning the regime go the way of their opponents. But the prevailing view is that the most important decisions go the way of the regime, giving cause to wonder whether members of the judiciary believe that pandering to the regime will result in some kind of reward. Whether or not the regime honours this bias remains to be seen.

But there’s a quiet revolution taking place.

Backed by the supranational union that governs the region in which the regime reigns supreme – much to the bemusement of locals – a dangerous new power is growing in the region’s most multicultural district. They’re youthful, aggressive and expert at deploying soft power through social media. Their anthem is chanted – uniquely – in a minor key, and has a distinctly, and refreshingly, Balkan flavour, and indeed, they have suffered their share of Balkanisation in recent years. But while support for this new force is still small – the region and even its own community have their suspicions – the numbers are finally starting to add up, and the potential is big.

And the time has come to get behind it.

Previous threats have been laughed off seemingly no sooner than they have arrived. This force is still largely an unknown quantity for the regime, but has successfully staved the regime off in the past, and may be the only ones capable of overcoming it in the future. Unless we get behind it, the regime may leave such a devastating impact on the region that even once it ultimately crumbles, the class warfare committed by their supporters will long continue.

*The use of real names has been deliberately avoided for fear of garnering the attention of the regime’s legal team, which is expert at silencing any potential public relations problems.