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  1. #1
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Syria: a civil war (closed)

    Moderator's Note: On 5th June 2012 this thread's title was changed from 'Uprising in Syria now?' to 'Syria: a civil war'.


    I'm sure we've all heard about the shootings of protesters in Deraa yesterday. Apparently more shooting has gone on today, with more protesters killed, combined with announcements of tentative reforms.

    Obviously the sectarian underbelly of Syrian politics has been rearing its ugly head, with anti-Alawite chants in Deraa and supposedly Alawites changing their Facebook profiles to Bashar Assad's face.

    The regime appears caught on the horns of a dilemma again regarding violence against protesters. Killing 20 or so people in Deraa has not deterred thousands more from turning out. Gunfire appears to be the order of the day again today - will this only spark more protests?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-05-2012 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Add Mod's Note

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    Default Deja vu?

    Syria: Assad speech offers little new

    I guess it could be said that Assad had his chance to make the necessary political changes but he blew it.

    This reminded me of what happened in South Africa in 1985 with President P. W. Botha's infamous Rubicon Speech.

    Additionally from Great expectations: Pres. PW Botha’s Rubicon speech of 1985

    Spurning the expectations of bold reforms, Botha projected himself as the uncompromising leader of a white minority determined to fight to the end for its survival. The speech triggered a massive outflow of capital and intensified sanctions against South Africa. A line in Botha’s speech, “Today we have crossed the Rubicon”, promptly became the object of scorn and ridicule.
    Perhaps Assad has given HIS Rubicon Speech and as such doomed his regime as a result?

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    Default How could this be ?

    Young Assad is a "reformer" - quoting Ms Clinton.

    The question, of course, is whether he is as willing and as able, as his Old Man, to build new parking lots.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Syria at 'The Rubicon'?

    Syria cannot be compared to South Africa, as JMA suggested; there is very little external investment in the economy and whilst some might have informal sanctions as party to 'evil' that is nothing like the informal, formal and legal sanctions on South Africa.

    There is a parallel in the lack of legitimacy, the use of a state of emergency (for fifty years in Syria) and I suspect an internal debate between repression and reform. What I found in South Africa amidst the police and securocrats before the Rubicon speech, way back in 1985, was a realisation that reform had to come and repression was only a temporary option.

    Somehow I doubt if Assad realises he has lost.
    davidbfpo

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Syria cannot be compared to South Africa, as JMA suggested; there is very little external investment in the economy and whilst some might have informal sanctions as party to 'evil' that is nothing like the informal, formal and legal sanctions on South Africa.

    There is a parallel in the lack of legitimacy, the use of a state of emergency (for fifty years in Syria) and I suspect an internal debate between repression and reform. What I found in South Africa amidst the police and securocrats before the Rubicon speech, way back in 1985, was a realisation that reform had to come and repression was only a temporary option.

    Somehow I doubt if Assad realises he has lost.
    "Crossing the Rubicon" as in passing a point of no return. A head of state clearly reading the internal and external mood badly wrong and thereby hastening and indeed ensuring the end of the regime. Lets sit back and see what happens now.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    I think perhaps the best analogy with South Africa is that both Botha and Assad presided over regimes whose base support was in a minority which dominated the military and security services and which was terrified of the consequences of releasing control. In Syria's case, unfortunately, there is no Mandela figure who exercises overarching moral control over a semi-unified opposition. Instead there is an inchoate and disparate opposition and thus no guarantee for the Alawites that they will not be purged from the country if the Assad regime falls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Somehow I doubt if Assad realises he has lost.
    Really? Not long ago people were saying the same thing about Ghaddafi. Syria isn't the same. What we "know" about what's going on in Syria is patchy and I think it's a little too early to be speculating about the fall of Assad Jr. Besides, he has the "backing" of Turkey and Lebanon (and Russia) both of which cannot afford a destabilsied Syria (not to mention Jordan). Whatever Assad does will be partly tempered by what happens to Ghaddfi; who's showing everyone what he's made of and thrown a spanner in the works in the process. In fact I think Libya will set an example to other states that the "Egyptian" or "Tunisian" models aren't exportable.

    On a different note, I wonder how the Obama admuinistration feels about what, to my eyes at least, loks like the Bush doctrine (of spreading democracy) coming to fruition (albeit not in a manner Bush Jr. envisaged)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    Really? Not long ago people were saying the same thing about Ghaddafi. Syria isn't the same. What we "know" about what's going on in Syria is patchy and I think it's a little too early to be speculating about the fall of Assad Jr. Besides, he has the "backing" of Turkey and Lebanon (and Russia) both of which cannot afford a destabilsied Syria (not to mention Jordan). Whatever Assad does will be partly tempered by what happens to Ghaddfi; who's showing everyone what he's made of and thrown a spanner in the works in the process. In fact I think Libya will set an example to other states that the "Egyptian" or "Tunisian" models aren't exportable.

    On a different note, I wonder how the Obama admuinistration feels about what, to my eyes at least, loks like the Bush doctrine (of spreading democracy) coming to fruition (albeit not in a manner Bush Jr. envisaged)?
    Surely you don't need a Harold MacMillan to educate you that there is a Wind of Change blowing through the Arab world?

    It may not take week, it may not take a month, or even a year or two but that wind is sure to blow through Syria as well. And the West should keep the fires burning there that the Wind of Change will fan.

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    Default Are The Iraqi Government And Shiite Parties Supporting Syria’s President Assad?

    Syria is experiencing a bloody Arab Spring, which Iraq might be involved in. Starting in March 2011, protests broke out in Syria, which the government immediately cracked down upon, but was not able to stop. By the fall, there were demonstrations across the country, and Damascus was responding with more and more force; leading to defections from the army. Beginning in the summer, reports emerged that the Iraqi government, along with leading Shiite parties were backing Damascus with political, economic, and military support.

    continued

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    Default Syrian Strategy

    Consider the following analogy: Syrian Uprising vs. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
    Just as the Soviets chose to let the Wehrmacht eliminate elements that were identified as being inconsistent with stability in a Soviet-dominated Poland, shouldnt we allow the current Syrian regime to eliminate the most radical elements of the opposition in an effort to foster a greater chance of stability after the regime has fallen?

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    Strickland partially cited:
    ..shouldnt we allow the current Syrian regime..
    Currently this not a situation in which outsiders, let alone the USA or the West (EU / NATO), are allowing the regime to do anything. Syria, I might add Bahrain is less lethally repressive, is criticised, condemned and subjected to sanctions that appear to have more to do with "taking a stand" than changing regime policy.

    As for
    ..eliminate the most radical elements of the opposition..
    From my watching of the situation the Syrian regime would have to kill tens of thousands. Nor are the most radical elements easily separated from the mass of protesters, many would argue the regime's response is what is the radicalising factor.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Serious Strategy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Strickland View Post
    ...shouldnt we allow the current Syrian regime to eliminate the most radical elements of the opposition in an effort to foster a greater chance of stability after the regime has fallen?
    No. That's the short answer. Long answer is 'Why do we care whether Syria is stable or not?' The mid east has not been stable for over 5,000 years and we aren't going to change that -- we were and are foolish to try.

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    Default UN Action Blocked

    Combined with the prior Turkish declination to take military action itself, and the Arab League decision to stand down (at least temporarily), the Russian and Chinese vetoes of the proposed UNSC Resolution (Lawfare brief by Jack Goldsmith), reinforce Peter Munson's points (and links), Syria and R2P.

    Regards

    Mike

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    The details and analysis may already be tucked away in a post or two within this thread, but does anyone know of research or critical analysis about the seemingly aberrant, though consistent, UN voting behavior of China and Russia?

    I understand that there are financials involved, as well as a sense of "sticking it to the West", but I continue to scratch my head at the full range of forces involved. Any books or papers you could recommended would be appreciated.

    As an aside, is it just that simple that China and Russia will veto anything where the US is perceived as instigating for the vote? Ambassador Churkin is quoted in today's LA Times that Western nations have undermined the chance for a political solution by "pushing the opposition towards power," yet Russia hasn't advocated any potential solution.
    Last edited by jcustis; 02-05-2012 at 07:26 PM.

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