A Book I’d Love to Read (or Write)

Fake book cover made by me based on this real one. Assad quote from here. Assad picture from here.

U.S. aiding al-Qaeda in Syria.

The YouTube claim.

Points against the “sectarian civil war” interpretation and in favor of the “class conflict” interpretation: most urban Sunnis in Damascus continue to oppose the rebellion, the first organized rebel massacres of Alawite civilians only occurred in August of this year (and even these massacres were done by groups with at least a large minority of foreigners), most fighters in Aleppo are of rural origin. I do, of course, understand that there is a sectarian element to this war (e.g., most Alawites and Druze are pro-regime, most rebels are Sunni), but to characterize the war as sectarian is to miss a pretty big point. The sectarian violence done so far is nothing compared to what would have happened had the regime collapsed in 2011. The war did not begin because Sunnis hated Alawites, and it is not continuing because Sunnis hate Alawites.

On survival of the Syrian regime still being important to U.S. interests and Obama understanding this-see this DailyKos article. The continued survival of the Syrian regime is the only thing keeping thousands of fighters outside the countries from where they came from. If the regime falls, rebel fighters causing trouble outside Syria are guaranteed.

More pro-regime combatants than civilians have died.

Points in favor of the claim that the civil war benefits U.S. interests: it has broken any Iranian dreams of becoming a major regional power, it decreases the militant Islamist threat in Iraq, it has distracted Syrian, Iranian, and Lebanese attention from Israel.

There are no viable non-military solutions to the conflict: this is self-explanatory. If the only provincial capital in which regime forces have been fully defeated is controlled by al-Qaeda, what more needs to be said?

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

5 thoughts on “A Book I’d Love to Read (or Write)”

  1. Maybe a non-military solution would be for Assad to ask for a UN supervised democratic election. I hear that 70% of the population supports him. Wouldn’t such a request continue the trend that Syria introduced through Russia regarding the riddance of chemical weapons?

    1. There are two insurmountable problems with this proposal: one of logistics and one of will. The one of logistics did not exist two and a half years ago; the one of will did.
      The one of logistics is that al-Qaeda controls most of ar-Raqqa province and a good part of Aleppo and Idlib provinces. Even if free and fair elections were held in the provinces of Suwayda, Latakia, Tartus, Damascus, Homs, Hamath, and Daraa under a hypothetical rebel-government truce (which Assad and the Ba’ath party might win fairly; the provinces of Homs, Daraa, and Hamath are the only provinces likely to get anti-Assad results), and the rebels in the largely government-held provinces accept those results (whether they result in Bashar al-Assad staying in power or not), al-Qaeda does not disappear from the northern provinces and the Kurdish question remains open.

      The one of will is this: if Bashar al-Assad becomes a sincere democrat overnight, and if Assad doesn’t win those hypothetical elections, there is sure to be a military coup. There is simply no way to make the rest of the politically influential Assad family consider accepting their loss of political influence.

      1. Alas, I understand your well-defined response. I’m thinking though that such a democratic proposal coming from Assad would give his position a moral superiority in the eyes of the world. And, he could do it because he, like you, knows it is not really a possibility. It would tend to take the wind out of the rebel’s push.

        1. It would tend to take the wind out of the rebel’s push.

          -If an effective ceasefire could be gotten from the rebels in the southern provinces, which is unlikely, but not completely unfeasible. Remember, the rebels rejected the 2012 parliamentary elections. Asking for U.N. election supervision in government-controlled areas couldn’t hurt, but I seriously doubt most observers would view such a request as a sign of Assad’s moral superiority.

          1. New doors were opened when Russia and Syria surprisingly responded to John Kerry’s glib remarks about abandoning chemical weapons. Kerry probably thought there was a fat chance there would be such a follow-up. I’m just speculating that the same kind of change in thinking could occur with respect to Assad should he also make requests for international supervision. Like Kerry he would initially think of his requests as more or less pretentious democratizing overtures. But then the unthinkable could begin to be thought of.

            Wouldn’t such overtures hasten the collapse of military solutions for all sides? Wouldn’t they encourage the rebels to take him up on it—even if their benefit was a long shot?

            Quoting Steven Pinker: “Nations become stable democracies only when their political factions tire of murder as the means of assigning power.”

            Unfortunately, as you insinuate, Assad is probably more shrewd than Kerry.

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