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BrainGlutton 08-27-2011 01:41 AM

Syria soon?
 
Protests have been going on since January. More than 2,000 killed so far. And it ain't dying down. NYT reports:

Quote:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Infused with new energy after watching the violent televised downfall of Libya’s longtime autocrat, thousands of Syrians poured into the streets of their own country after noon prayers on Friday and demanded the same fate for President Bashar al-Assad, residents and activists reported.

It was yet another show of defiance in Syria against the government of Mr. Assad, who has never hesitated to use deadly force to suppress the five-month-old uprising that has threatened his grip on power. The rebellion in Libya that sent Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi fleeing from his fortified enclave in Tripoli seemed to give the Syrian protesters fresh enthusiasm.

“Qaddafi is gone; it is your turn, Bashar!” demonstrators screamed, according to accounts relayed from Syria, which has banned most foreign news organizations from reporting inside the country. Others shouted, “Bye-bye, Qaddafi. Bashar is next!” and “Bashar, we don’t love you, even if you turn night into day!”
:confused: Maybe it rhymes or something in Arabic . . .

Well, Gaddafi was in a weaker situation to start with, I think. Assad has a stronger military and a stronger security force and better control over both. Are there any chances this could even turn into an armed revolt, let alone a succesful one? I mean, where they gonna get the weapons?

Just how bad are Assad and his Ba'athist regime anyway? I mean, compared to Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi. How much reason do his people have to hate him?

Captain Amazing 08-27-2011 01:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14189390)
Just how bad are Assad and his Ba'athist regime anyway? I mean, compared to Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi. How much reason do his people have to hate him?

Pretty bad. Syria's been under a state of emergency since 1963, which basically lets the security forces ignore the law and do whatever they wants. The police regularly arrest critics of the government, hold them indefinitely without trial, and torture them. It's illegal to belong to a political party, to assemble, and to criticize the government. Pretty much all media, including the internet is censored.

In 1982, the government sent in the army to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama. This was in response to a bunch of conflicts between the government and the Brothers, including an assassination attempt on Assad.

The Army decided they were going to take care of the situation by shelling the city with artillery for three weeks, then they moved in and shot anyone they even suspected of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and also anyone who moved. At the end, anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 people were killed, most of whom had no association at all with the Brothers.

Frank 08-27-2011 06:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain Amazing (Post 14189400)
In 1982, the government sent in the army to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama. This was in response to a bunch of conflicts between the government and the Brothers, including an assassination attempt on Assad.

It should be noted that the Assad referenced here was the current president's father. Bashir al-Assad took over on Hafez' death in 2000.

That said, the transition didn't change anything.

I don't see this going the same way as Libya. Assad does not have the distaste from the Arab world that Qaddaffi had. It's farther away from Europe, making logistics more difficult for NATO. It's got what is by all accounts a reasonably competent army that is showing no signs of the fractures that quickly appeared in Libya's, and that has shown itself willing to do as it's told.

Whatever path may lead to Assad's eventual overthrow, I don't think one can look at Libya as a guide to it.

BrainGlutton 08-27-2011 01:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14189579)
Assad does not have the distaste from the Arab world that Qaddaffi had.

Doesn't he?

gonzomax 08-27-2011 01:38 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqwi6IrgLN8

The middle east is a bit different than we think.

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-27-2011 01:39 PM

Assad not only has the distaste from the Arab world, but the Turkish world, the Persian world, the Western world, the Kurdish world, and the Shiite Terrorist world are all calling for reforms or for Assad to simply step down.

There are even news reports about Syria's WMDs, so the neoconservatives must not like Assad either.

Logistics should not be an issue if it comes to a bombing campaign considering the presence of American and Turkish air force bases in border country and NATO ally Turkey.

AndyLee 08-27-2011 02:35 PM

The Arabs are glad Qaddaffi is gone but they are mad at the way it was done. It looked like NATO installed the regime, which it basicaly did. It didn't put ground forces but it provided air strikes and paralyzed Qaddaffi's troops so the rebels could win.

The UN is highly unlikely to authorize any action in Syria. Assad has problems as his family is an Alawite, not all Muslims even agree they are Muslim. It's in Syria's constitution that Alawite's are Muslims. Syria is also 10% Christian and 3% Druze, so that's a factor.

No one wants an unstable Syria, which effectively controls Lebanon as well. Syria under the Assads is a bit of a pariah as they supported Iran against the Arabs. But this was no so much of a like of Iran but a hatred of Iraq.

The second any outstide force tries to butt in, Syria can throw stuff at Israel, which would invite retaliation and unite the Arabs against it. Russia also has a naval base in Syria, so that is going to be problematic for any foreign country aiding Syria.

The Lebanese proved themselves to be tough, they beat Israel, they bombed the USA causing Reagan to pull out their marine units and it could be an utter mess if they were let loose.

Frank 08-27-2011 02:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14190441)

Oh, yeah, that's a fine group of opposition. Speaking of non-democratic governments that should be overthrown, you know?

Ximenean 08-27-2011 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14189579)
It's farther away from Europe, making logistics more difficult for NATO.

Syria is close to Cyprus, home to major British military bases used in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed Libya. Then there's Turkey. Logistically, Syria would appear to be within NATO's reach.

Frank 08-27-2011 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ximenean (Post 14190604)
Syria is close to Cyprus, home to major British military bases used in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed Libya. Then there's Turkey. Logistically, Syria would appear to be within NATO's reach.

True enough. I suspect though, that if Turkey got involved, we'd be looking at an actual ground war. I don't think it would take long for Syria to retaliate. I don't think anybody wants that.

AndyLee makes a good point about the proximity of Israel as well.

BrainGlutton 08-27-2011 03:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14190631)
True enough. I suspect though, that if Turkey got involved, we'd be looking at an actual ground war. I don't think it would take long for Syria to retaliate. I don't think anybody wants that.

AndyLee makes a good point about the proximity of Israel as well.

A civil war/revolution in Syria would be a ground war. The question is whether the ground-fighting would be Syrians-only, like the Libyan ground-fighting was Libyans-only (discounting some foreign mercs and NATO special-forces guys). Turkey could get involved but limit itself to air support -- almost certainly would, if that were declared NATO policy. As for Assad retaliating by sending ground troops into Turkey -- I don't think he wants to raise the stakes that high. (He could fairly retaliate with airplanes, and then we'd see something not seen in decades -- old-fashioned dogfighting between roughly comparable air forces. Exciting movies will be made one day, in Arabic and in Turkish.)

Frank 08-27-2011 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14190647)
A civil war/revolution in Syria would be a ground war. The question is whether the ground-fighting would be Syrians-only, like the Libyan ground-fighting was Libyans-only (discounting some foreign mercs and NATO special-forces guys).

Duh. I don't know if Assad would want to raise that stakes that high either, but it had better be considered. Neither do I know if he'd want to raise the stakes by involving Israel, but that had damn well better be considered too. Israel is not going to show the patience with Syria that they did when Saddam was lobbing missiles at them in the first Gulf War.

You know, my stance here is not simply that I would disagree with U.S./NATO action against Syria as strongly as I did with the action against Libya, it is that viewing such action through the prism of Libya is a mistake. Syria is an entirely different situation, and would not be Libya II, and if such action takes place, it would be far more likely to dangerously escalate.

Martin Hyde 08-27-2011 03:23 PM

When did the Lebanese beat Israel again? All I really saw in the 2006 war was Lebanon getting its ass kicked over and over again by an Israel that, due to geopolitical concerns, wasn't fighting with one hand behind its back but with both hands tied behind its back, blindfolded, and with its legs shackled together.

Israel essentially slapped the shit out of Lebanon and then backed off under international pressure.

I'm not saying it was a great Israeli victory, but I don't know any observer outside of hardcore Hezbollah members and supporters who think it was a genuine Lebanese victory.

Frank 08-27-2011 03:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Martin Hyde (Post 14190707)
When did the Lebanese beat Israel again?.

I agree that Lebanon is a non-factor. Without international community restraints, either Syria or Israel could take Lebanon on a whim. Or half of Lebanon each, if they made a Secret Protocol.

BrainGlutton 08-27-2011 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14190693)
Israel is not going to show the patience with Syria that they did when Saddam was lobbing missiles at them in the first Gulf War.

:confused: If a civil war happens in Syria, can't Israel say out of it? I think they'd better.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14190693)
Syria is an entirely different situation, and would not be Libya II, and if such action takes place, it would be far more likely to dangerously escalate.

Into what?

Frank 08-27-2011 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14191172)
:confused: If a civil war happens in Syria, can't Israel say out of it? I think they'd better.

I'm beginning to think I have to spell everything out to you in words of no more than one syllable. Really, I am.

If, while NA-TO is bomb-ing Syr-i-a, As-sad says, "what the fuck", and de-cides to at-tack Is-ra-el, will they stay out of it?

Seriously, dude, what the hell was so difficult to understand about that possible eventuality?

Quote:

Into what?
Well, among other possiblilities, into a war where Israel starts lobbing nuclear weapons at Syria.

BrainGlutton 08-27-2011 07:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14191257)
If, while NA-TO is bomb-ing Syr-i-a, As-sad says, "what the fuck", and de-cides to at-tack Is-ra-el . . .

No, no, no. Assad is not batshit insane, he would not raise the stakes that high to save his life, because he could be sure it wouldn't. Israel could kick his ass alone, and an attack on a U.S. ally would justify U.S. ground intervention, and for once both could expect some measure of on-the-ground popularity. Think about that, compared to one year ago: Israeli and U.S. troops marching into Syria and being welcomed as liberators. It could actually happen now. Because the people aren't so sure they can take Assad by themselves.

Frank 08-27-2011 08:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14191342)
No, no, no. Assad is not batshit insane, he would not raise the stakes that high to save his life, because he could be sure it wouldn't.

What if nothing he could do would save his life? What might he do? And I'll assure you, that if for one second you believe that Israelis could be welcomed into Damascus as liberators under any circumstances, you are even more purely delusional than those in the U.S. who felt that way about Baghdad.

Let's step back for a moment.

Among other dissimilarities to Libya, Syria has a competent, well-supplied, and obedient military, a border with a NATO member, and a border with Israel with whom Syria has a history of belligerence.

What similarities do you see to Libya?

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-27-2011 08:56 PM

All this comparison to Libya style speculation relies on the presence of a united opposition against the regime. There is no such united opposition despite at least two attempts this summer to form one in Istanbul. There is also no crack in the military that can be exploited. Without these two things, helping the opposition militarily would mean invading.

The linchpin country for such a move is Turkey, and they have stated many times they are not interested in military intervention. Operation Neverending Warfare will not occur as things stand now. Eventually the Syrian government will regain control either through making a desirable number of changes to their government or a few military atrocities.

Israel will not be involved no matter what the outcome. Although the Mideast should rightly revolve around Israel, it's taking a break from its most important concern for Arabs.

BrainGlutton 08-28-2011 11:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inbred Mm domesticus (Post 14191485)
All this comparison to Libya style speculation relies on the presence of a united opposition against the regime. There is no such united opposition despite at least two attempts this summer to form one in Istanbul.

They did, just last week in Istanbul, re-found the National Council of Syria.

BrainGlutton 08-28-2011 11:47 AM

If Syrian rebels need a pre-Ba'athist flag, it happens that there are several to choose from.

BrainGlutton 08-28-2011 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14191385)
Among other dissimilarities to Libya, Syria has a competent, well-supplied, and obedient military, a border with a NATO member, and a border with Israel with whom Syria has a history of belligerence.

What similarities do you see to Libya?

An unpopular dictatorship, an active pro-democracy uprising, and fluency in Arabic so that everybody knows more or less what's happening throughout the Arab world right now.

Despite which, Assad starts out in a stronger position than Gaddafi did, as I said in the OP. The Libyan revolution depended on the army being not very competent, and with many troops and officers ready to defect to the rebels. The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions depended on the army supporting the revolution or at least tacitly agreeing to stay out of its way. Those conditions will not exist in Syria.

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-28-2011 01:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14192753)
They did, just last week in Istanbul, re-found the National Council of Syria.

No they didn't come to an agreement; maybe someday, but not right now at all.

Magiver 08-28-2011 06:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndyLee (Post 14190582)
The Arabs are glad Qaddaffi is gone but they are mad at the way it was done. It looked like NATO installed the regime, which it basicaly did. It didn't put ground forces but it provided air strikes and paralyzed Qaddaffi's troops so the rebels could win.

What regime? We have no idea who we're supporting. It's a civil war. It will probably be a civil war a year from now when all the feudal states fight it out for the oil.

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-28-2011 07:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magiver (Post 14193715)
What regime? We have no idea who we're supporting. It's a civil war. It will probably be a civil war a year from now when all the feudal states fight it out for the oil.

This is part of that oft repeated belief that the Arabs haven't discovered Nationalism or Democracy in their game of Civilization 4 isn't it?

Magiver 08-28-2011 08:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inbred Mm domesticus (Post 14193857)
This is part of that oft repeated belief that the Arabs haven't discovered Nationalism or Democracy in their game of Civilization 4 isn't it?

No, it's part of a simple question, WHAT REGIME? Do capital letters help?

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-28-2011 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magiver (Post 14193942)
No, it's part of a simple question, WHAT REGIME? Do capital letters help?

Well, since they are wrapping up the war, I would say the organization recognized by almost every government and every major governing body in the world: the National Transitional Council. They were in Benghazi and will be moving to Tripoli soon to continue running the country. NATO engaged in a bombing campaign for months to support them. I think you might have heard of them, but maybe not.

downtown1441 08-29-2011 07:47 AM

There's been a fair amount of coverage recently about how Iran's anti-protest and internet-censorship forces have been helping the Syrian regime out, as effective as they were at cracking down on the protests in Tehran and other cities that could be the difference that keeps Syria's government from collapsing like other Arab nations did.

Dick Dastardly 08-29-2011 11:52 AM

Syria don't have any oil and the israelis prefer the current regime over any of the prospective alternatives, so there'll be no US attempt at overthrowing the current regime. Maybe there'll be a change of leader to put a different face on the regime but it's hard to see it going further than that. Any real revolution there will come from the people, peace be upon them, but it's hard to see how they can overthrow such an entrenched power structure. maybe the Assad family gets the boot but then all the current Syrian playas have to agree on a replacement.

BrainGlutton 08-29-2011 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14195866)
Syria don't have any oil and the israelis prefer the current regime over any of the prospective alternatives, so there'll be no US attempt at overthrowing the current regime.

Regime change in Syria would be to the U.S.' strategic advantage; Assad is an ally of Iran. As for Israel, could any succeeding regime be more anti-Israeli? I doubt it.

The danger to watch for here is not a worse new regime, but no effective regime at all. Syria is not more-or-less homogeneous like Libya and Egypt and Tunisia, it is ethnically and religiously diverse enough to factionalize and fracture Iraq-style.

Magiver 08-29-2011 05:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inbred Mm domesticus (Post 14194419)
Well, since they are wrapping up the war, I would say the organization recognized by almost every government and every major governing body in the world: the National Transitional Council. They were in Benghazi and will be moving to Tripoli soon to continue running the country. NATO engaged in a bombing campaign for months to support them. I think you might have heard of them, but maybe not.

Elvis has left the building and they're still fighting his supporters so we haven't seen part II yet. At this point, the NTC consists of of a loose collection of people who wanted Gaddafi gone. If and when that happens there will be a large vacuum of power which will see different factions around the country compete for the oil field money and jobs. All that assumes Gaddafi didn't take a wad of money with him to wage war from Algeria.

All we supported was a loose confederation of "not Gaddafi" rebels who have no authority themselves beyond the end of a gun for anyone who challenges their right to rule in the interim.

Inbred Mm domesticus 08-29-2011 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magiver (Post 14197327)
Elvis has left the building and they're still fighting his supporters so we haven't seen part II yet. At this point, the NTC consists of of a loose collection of people who wanted Gaddafi gone. If and when that happens there will be a large vacuum of power which will see different factions around the country compete for the oil field money and jobs. All that assumes Gaddafi didn't take a wad of money with him to wage war from Algeria.

All we supported was a loose confederation of "not Gaddafi" rebels who have no authority themselves beyond the end of a gun for anyone who challenges their right to rule in the interim.

This isn't Iraq in 2003 or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Militarily, the NTC has a specific command and control. They would not have driven Qaddafi out of Tripoli without it. They would still look like they did after NATO started bombing.

Financially, there is a NTC finance minister and all Qaddafi assets in countries that recognize the NTC are going to be in their hands.

Politically, there is a leadership and foreign ministry that is already governing the actions in the country.

Although doubts are fine, this situation is more like Egypt or Tunisia where the interim struggles are neither severe nor pushing the country away from its original political goals. At least this is what I predict from what I see.

Syria has little to compare with Libya, but that may change over time. It would be worth considering helping out the Syrian opposition if they develop into an organized rebellion. It was a good strategy that cost us little and the gains are big.

BrainGlutton 08-30-2011 11:34 AM

At the very end of this Aljazeera story:

Quote:

Rights groups say more than 2,200 people have been killed since protests began in March. The Syrian government say about 600 security personnel have also died in the unrest.
Really!

That many security personnel.

That implies at least some of the protesters are already armed.

BrainGlutton 08-30-2011 11:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magiver (Post 14197327)
All we supported was a loose confederation of "not Gaddafi" rebels who have no authority themselves beyond the end of a gun for anyone who challenges their right to rule in the interim.

They're an insurrectionary government, of course they're not elected. Their right to rule is also backed up by broad popularity and a general consensus that somebody has to rule, chaos must be avoided. In the eastern half of the country, after the Gaddafi forces were chased out or defected, and the rebels had to keep things running, they simply put the local governments under town councils of volunteers nobody found too objectionable. The NTC is the same thing writ large; its numbers now will be supplemented by cooption, i.e., they'll recruit some members representing the Tripoli area, etc. And that's the nearest thing to a government representative of the nation that can be put together right away -- isn't it? Government-by-volunteers might not work in the long run, but it should work until elections can be organized.

Dick Dastardly 08-30-2011 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14197211)
Regime change in Syria would be to the U.S.' strategic advantage; Assad is an ally of Iran. As for Israel, could any succeeding regime be more anti-Israeli? I doubt it.

The danger to watch for here is not a worse new regime, but no effective regime at all. Syria is not more-or-less homogeneous like Libya and Egypt and Tunisia, it is ethnically and religiously diverse enough to factionalize and fracture Iraq-style.

The next Syrian regime, if it's actually representative of the Syrian people, will be far more Arab nationalist than the current regime. Israel have historically been happy with the status quo in Syria -- the Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafi groups being possible alternatives to the current regime -- and like you point out, from America's point of view a country with so many different ethnic groups, majority Sunni and ruled by an Alawite minority could easily fracture into a 2010s version of 1980s Lebanon. Syria currently is no real problem but change the regime and you could have an ongoing decades-long conflict stoked by Syria's neighbours, Iran, Saudi etc. So the status quo looks quite good. Plus they've got no oil, so no real incentive to change the regime. Look at Egypt. Both the US and Israel would take another few decades of Mubarak Junior rule in a second if offered the opportunity. They don't know what they're going to get now. Why create another Egypt, or more probably another Lebanon?

Dick Dastardly 08-30-2011 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14199941)
At the very end of this Aljazeera story:



Really!

That many security personnel.

That implies at least some of the protesters are already armed.

Syrian security peole have died at the hands of groups that have been opposed to the Assad regime for decades. These groups are really strong in cities like Hama. In the eighties there was a mass Sunni revolt against the Assad regime. There was such strong resistance from Sunni radicals in Hama that Hafez Assad, Bashar's dad, sent his air force in to bomb the shit out of the old town. Then he dropped chemical weapons on them. Then he surrounded the town with artillery and shelled them for a month. Then he sent the tanks in to flatten everything. Then he sent a fleet of bulldozers in to crush everything completely flat.

Do you really want to open up this can of worms? For decades the US and Israel have believed that the regime currently keeping a lid on all the potential mayhem there was a good thing, the least bad option we had. And events in the region and Syria over the last year have only confirmed that. I just can't see anybody in Washington or Israel keen to see any actual popular revolution happening there.

BrainGlutton 08-30-2011 04:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14200306)
The next Syrian regime, if it's actually representative of the Syrian people, will be far more Arab nationalist than the current regime.

Meaning what, exactly? "Arab nationalism" used to mean the same thing as "pan-Arabism," i.e., the idea that all the Arabic-speaking states and people should be united (which is a core principle of Ba'athist ideology, I believe). An idea which in the past produced such things as a short-lived Syrian-Egyptian federation called the "United Arab Republic," but nobody seems much interested in reviving it, AFAIK.

Dick Dastardly 08-31-2011 12:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14201390)
Meaning what, exactly? "Arab nationalism" used to mean the same thing as "pan-Arabism," i.e., the idea that all the Arabic-speaking states and people should be united (which is a core principle of Ba'athist ideology, I believe). An idea which in the past produced such things as a short-lived Syrian-Egyptian federation called the "United Arab Republic," but nobody seems much interested in reviving it, AFAIK.

Meaning that they'd be far more of a problem for America and israel than they currently are, see Egypt for instance.

Ibn Warraq 08-31-2011 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14200306)
The next Syrian regime, if it's actually representative of the Syrian people, will be far more Arab nationalist than the current regime.

You don't know what you are talking about.

The Ba'athists who've ruled Syria for generations were the inventors of Arab Nationalism.

On the other hand, their domestic opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are fervently anti-Nationalist.

BrainGlutton 08-31-2011 04:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibn Warraq (Post 14205079)
You don't know what you are talking about.

The Ba'athists who've ruled Syria for generations were the inventors of Arab Nationalism.

On the other hand, their domestic opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are fervently anti-Nationalist.

What does "anti-Nationalist" mean in this context? And does it mean trouble for the U.S. or Israel?

Ibn Warraq 08-31-2011 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14205697)
What does "anti-Nationalist" mean in this context? And does it mean trouble for the U.S. or Israel?

It means they don't see their primary identity as being "Arab" or "Syrian" but as Muslim.

That's why Muslim radicals aren't as concerned with ethnic identity since from their standpoint all Muslims are brothers. That's why the Arabs of Hezbollah swear their allegiance to the Iranian Supreme Leader.

It's also why Hamas leaders have insisted they fight for all Muslims and are part of the Ummah while Al Quaeda is a veritable hodge-podge of nationalities.

As for what it means for Israel and the US both the Ba'athists and Islamic radicals have regularly made it clear they hate the Americans and Jews but contrary to the ignorant opinions of countless westernors, Islamic radicals when it's in their interest have regularly collaborated with both the Jews and the Americans, though usually behind the scenes.

For example during the 80s and early 90s the Iranian regime collaborated with both the US and Israel when in their interests.

BrainGlutton 08-31-2011 07:25 PM

Amnesty International says at least 88 Syrians have died in state custody since March, many of them tortured. That's just the ones they can document, of course.

Frank 08-31-2011 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14206355)

Your point? Should any country that has had 88 people die in state custody in six months have its government overthrown? Or what?

Look, BrainGlutton, you spent a lot of time in the Libyan thread just posting links, with an occasional brief description. You have not spent a lot of time explaining your views, for or against of the news contained in the links. Would you care to start, or would you prefer to continue your blog-like pattern?

Dick Dastardly 09-01-2011 11:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ibn Warraq (Post 14205079)
You don't know what you are talking about.

The Ba'athists who've ruled Syria for generations were the inventors of Arab Nationalism.

On the other hand, their domestic opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are fervently anti-Nationalist.

The first Arab nationalist movement was the nahda current which pre-dated the baathists by about half a century. The Brothers in Egypt and similar groups are far more assertive of Egyptian influence in the region, especially in terms of the Israel situation, than Mubarak ever was and this is why the US and Israel don't want any more countries becoming so assertive -- call it Arab nationalist as a shorthand -- in the region as Egypt has become since the fall of Mubarak. That's the point I'm trying to make. Any government that manages to overthrow the Assad regime is going to be more assertive over the Palestinian problem, the Golan and any US/Israeli attempt at influence in Syria. The Assad regime is the devil we know.

BrainGlutton 09-01-2011 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14206387)
Your point? Should any country that has had 88 people die in state custody in six months have its government overthrown? Or what?

It further illustrates the severity and brutality of the crackdown. How is it not relevant?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frank (Post 14206387)
Look, BrainGlutton, you spent a lot of time in the Libyan thread just posting links, with an occasional brief description. You have not spent a lot of time explaining your views, for or against of the news contained in the links. Would you care to start, or would you prefer to continue your blog-like pattern?

Of course the Libya thread got bloggy, I started it in February to debate whether anything was going to happen and it's been tracking a civil war ever since and it's not over yet. As for my views, I think it's all a very good thing and the U.S. and NATO handled the Libyan situation just right: We didn't start it, it couldn't honestly be blamed on us in any way, we limited our involvement to the air support the rebels asked for, so there are no foreign occupiers to resent. So, after a civil war with very limited bloodshed considering its duration, the result might very well be a U.S-and-Western-friendly Arab democracy.

My views on Syria are that it would be a very, very good thing if we could pull off something like that in Syria, but I don't know if it's possible, or too risky. The question is open for debate. If I find the question interesting enough to state, I am not required to take a side. Based on what I've read in this thread so far, I still think the worst danger is not an even-more-anti-Israeli-and-U.S. regime, but ethnic/religious factionalization and strife.

Dick Dastardly 09-02-2011 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14208503)
we limited our involvement to the air support..............

the result might very well be a U.S-and-Western-friendly Arab democracy.

If we hadn't got imvolved then there's zero chance other countries like britain and whoever would have tried to overthrow gaddafi themselves.

And pretty much any Arab democracy is going to be less US-friendly than any Arab dictator. Dictators like Mubarak could be bought off with money, QED. Any Libyan government which actually represents the will of its people, and I don't expect to see one emerge in Libya, would not be US-friendly. America's standing in the Middle East has declined steadily over the decades, reaching what we thought was a nadir when Bush unilaterally invaded Iraq. But America's reaction to the events of the Arab Spring have caused America's standing amongst Arabs to fall even lower than it was under the Bush regime.

What eventually emerges as a government in libya may indeed be US-friendly, at least compared with the Gadaffi regime, but that won't represent the will of the Libyan people, especially as regards their natural resources and the new regime's foreign policy in the region.

BrainGlutton 09-02-2011 11:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14212105)
If we hadn't got imvolved then there's zero chance other countries like britain and whoever would have tried to overthrow gaddafi themselves.

What makes you think that? France was pretty eager.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14212105)
Any Libyan government which actually represents the will of its people, and I don't expect to see one emerge in Libya . . .

Why not?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14212105)
. . . would not be US-friendly.

Why not?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly (Post 14212105)
America's standing in the Middle East has declined steadily over the decades, reaching what we thought was a nadir when Bush unilaterally invaded Iraq. But America's reaction to the events of the Arab Spring have caused America's standing amongst Arabs to fall even lower than it was under the Bush regime.

What makes you think that?!

Dick Dastardly 09-02-2011 11:21 AM

Oh yeah, this is Syria not libya we're talking about in this thread. :smack:

I've been out of the office enjoying a mainly liquid lunch until now so that's my excuse anyway. :)

OK, Syria. You've got a lot of competing ethnic groups in Syria and the groups they represent aren't exactly US-friendly. If there's any kind of unifying national issue, it's the golan heights which Israel seized in 1967. Obviously the US slavishly backs Israel and israel don't want to give them up, so Syrians aren't going to be pro-American over this issue. There isn't exactly going to be a seamless transition from the Assad regime to anything else.

The current power structure isn't going to go down without a fight and will be backed by its ally Iran and also Iraq, who are currently supporting the Assad regime. The Saudis and us would probably support the Sunnis, most of whom would be people we were calling terrorists when theey were fighting against us in Iraq. If we did support one particular group to overthrow the Assad regime we'd probably end up with another lebanon.

The Assad regime have been concerned with nothing else but their own survival for at least thirty years. It's likely that any new regime that emerged from a civil war would be in exactly the same situation sooner rather than later.

Dick Dastardly 09-02-2011 11:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrainGlutton (Post 14212130)
What makes you think that? France was pretty eager.



Why not?



Why not?



What makes you think that?!

They may have been eager but they don't have any military capability. Britain and france ran out of bombs and missiles after about two weeks of the war. Without US involvement the overthrow would never have happened :

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-Ne...2171302932477/

Democracies don't just appear because a regime gets overthrown, especially in countries with lots of oil. Just because you hold an election in a country doesn't make it a democracy. Look at Egypt for instance. We've committed two billion on top of the two billion a year we already give them to back our favoured candidates in the forthcoming elections. that's because we want a pro-US government in power there. We want the same in Libya, Syria, everywhere else in the region.


The US wants shall we say preferred access to Middle Eastern energy and compliant governments and ME governments to recognise and make peace with Israel. This conflicts diametrically with the will of the Middle Eastern people. See Egypt for example.

Here's an actual poll which has been carried out for decades that shows the changing US sentiment in the region :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...HVBI_blog.html

The US has been interfering in the region, overthrowing governments they don't like and replacing them with dictators and propping up dictators they do like who keep tens of millions of Arabs living under hrrible repressive regimes. The events of the Arab Spring have confirmed to Arabs that the US prefers pro-US/Israel dictators to the will of the Arab people, so exactly why should the US be popular in the region? If you'd lived under a horrible repressive dictatoeship all your life that had been propped up by the US, why would you be pro-US? Why would you see the US as somehow representing freedom? Can't you see why the vast majority of Arab people might not see America as representing freedom?

BrainGlutton 10-04-2011 09:36 AM

Now Syrian government troops are clashing with army "defectors." (As distinct from deserters.) That's how it started in Libya.


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