Assad’s central strategy, this with the probable collusion of its partners, has been to produce an interesting piece of post-KGB-style political theater: “Assad vs The Terrorists”, which becomes also “Assad OR The Terrorists.” First, however, he needed “The Terrorists”, and he needed bad enough terrorists to confuse the moderate opposition with them. He had a few ways of accomplishing this effect. He could spill Islamists out of his jails (I’ll refer to a piece on that bit of data in a moment) and he could focus his air and ground forces against FSA (the initial revolutionary force while giving the al-Qaeda Typicals (like al-Nusra and ISIS) time to incubate.
With “The Terrorists” fully present, Assad could then make the demand, “help me, or help them.”
The same system makes way also for the Assad-side slogan, “Assad, Or We Burn the Country.”
The western position: help neither, but try to help other forces strong enough in their own moral and fighting fiber to fight both — and the same have been fighting on their two fronts — against Assad’s forces and against Daesh.
Max Fisher’s piece attends to the complicated political nuts and bolts where I have emphasized a larger struggle between the medieval world of political absolutism, of which Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdaddi form a whole: the first three have in the fourth the enemy they need to write the future of the world their way. None appear possessed of any compassion sufficient to forestall their own inability in restraining themselves.
What has come from this has been a steady stream of “war porn” — indescribable images of death, dismemberment, maiming, and mutilation having for their subject tens of thousands of Syrian noncombatants. All who have watched the “Syrian Tragedy” — that’s my term for it — online have seen this horrific feed.
While we have also seen — and in some ways been made to see — Daesh atrocities conveyed in pictures and text, what we have seen also without end have been the targets and effects of Assad’s barrel bombing of whole areas. A portion of Homs today looks like Nagasaki after the ashes have cooled. Famously, the Palestinian Yarmouk Camp has been devastated between Assad’s forces and those of the Islamic State — http://www.longwarjournal.org/…/islamic-state-releases…
Fundamentally, the struggle between the post-Soviet feudalists (“absolute powers” each of them) and the Islamic feudalists is medieval in a particularly barbaric way: both are using modern weapons absent of any apparent compassion or conscience.
The medieval screed wants the division of all against all — and those who benefit from it have to promote that division as part of their own archaic, faulted, or otherwise misguided ambition — and for shame or honor, none dare admit fault.
Worse, the medieval of mind align differentially — according to national, religious, or sectarian nominal affiliation. Because you were born . . . Shia . . . because you were born . . . Sunni . . . because you were born Russian Orthodox . . . because you were born Arab . . . . because you were born Turkish . . . . these obligations (to bully, demean, and diminish others, to pick fights with others, the more helpless, the better, etc.) are incumbent upon thee.
The medieval world had been constrained by slow transportation, primitive methods of distant communication (runners with notes or messages) and personal weaponry. These medieval elements in the modern world are not so constrained and are both borrowing and leaking themselves into the platforms, as it were, of the progressive manufacturing of devastating weapons as well as other sectors generating the modern experience of community and technology.
Start with Assad’s planes.
The barrel bombs might be basic in various ways, but the flying machines are not.
Now: Russian cruise missiles launched from air and sea; on the ground, anything that can be gotten and carried.
Part of the online crowd supports the Russian position coupled with affinity for the Christian Church (which church matters less at the moment: whatever the true political topology may be, Assad’s opposition — “The Terrorists” — are all Islamists in the Baghdaddi tradition. Often reached for in objection to that position are the many images of dead, injured, maimed, and mangled children or their parents. In Assad’s war, the same have not been “collateral” or “in the way” of “The Terrorists”: by all appearances and by way of general barrel bombing most of all, they have been the certain targets of Assad’s so-called “defense”.
This video post on YouTube on May 3, 2011 appears among the earliest statements of the Assad concern for any opposed to its absolute authority in Syria:
Related from 2013:
“It’s more horrific than any other war zone I’ve worked in. Most civilians are caught in crossfire, they are never really caught in direct fire. It is direct fire this time” he told BBC News.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24593886 – 10/19/2013 – “Syria snipers ‘shoot at pregnant women,’ UK doctor claims.”
Such state-generated terrorism encourages sympathy for the Syrian opposition, including in the confusion “The Terrorists” that the Assad regime allowed to incubate.
There are many other and similar observations and arguments having to do with “Assad and The Terrorists” and the medieval barbarism put on display before the world. The escalation attending Russia’s entry into the combat area, the side-by-side mix of Russo-NATO (U.S.) cooperation and “proxy war” have no effect on the kind of inhuman consciousness involved in sustaining the conflict.
It has been and remains BackChannel’s thesis that Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdaddi and what they represent — on this blog, 21st Century Feudalism — require one another for survival.
Related on BackChannels: https://conflict-backchannels.com/2015/10/02/syria-assad-vs-the-terrorists-how-isis-defends-assad/ – 10/2/2015.
# # #