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Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:16 AM

Without negotiations, Syria will be the new Somalia, UN envoy says

Source: guardian

A diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria seemed as far away as ever on Saturday, as the UN-Arab League envoy to Damascus, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the country risked slithering into "hell".

Following talks in Moscow with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Brahimi said there was no alternative to negotiations. The country faced two stark choices, he said a serious, Syrian-led political dialogue between the rebels and the regime, or what he darkly called "Somali-isation".

Brahimi who held talks on Monday in Damascus with Syria's defiant president, Bashar al-Assad said stopping the bloody civil war in 2013 was indispensable. But, he conceded, the obstacles to peace were enormous.

After almost two years of fighting, both sides "disagreed violently even about the analysis of the situation", he said. The Assad regime insisted it was battling "terrorists", while the armed opposition said it was leading a popular uprising against an "illegitimate" government, already in power for 40 years.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/29/syria-somalia-un-envoy

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:18 AM

1. I hope not. I'd hope Syrians were a bit smarter than that.

I also hope they kick Bashir to the curb. He makes his daddy look like Santy Claus.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:33 PM

8. You hope there is no negotiated settlement?

How many Syrians are you willing to see die for your wish to be fulfilled?

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 01:27 PM

12. I hope a negotiated settlement includes Bashir OUT.

If he stays put, you can kill 'em now, or you can kill 'em later--but he'll make sure anyone who opposed him ends up dead. See, that's how he rolls.

Your style of discussion leaves very much to be desired.

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Response to MADem (Reply #12)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 02:24 PM

14. I see you have modified your original position.

A negotiated settlement would be preferable to endless civil war. Remember, the Lebanese civil war lasted 15 years, and Syria is like Lebanon writ large.

Assad will probably have to go, but that sort of misses the point. It's not Assad vs. Syria. Assad represents a regime that has the support of a significant portion of the population, especially religious and ethnic minorities. Syrians are going to have to figure out how to live together, or it's all going to fly apart, and that could make what we've seen so far look like a cakewalk.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 04:34 PM

15. No, I haven't. I see you're continuing to display a confrontational approach to conversation.

It's customary to discuss, not accuse.

Assad "going" IS the point. He (and he's a member of a relatively small religious minority--it's not "religious approval" keeping him in charge, it's more like "corruption bedfellows") makes his father look like Santy Claus. There's more than two factions happening over there, too, and this isn't just a shi'a-sunni exercise. Alawis are not shi'a like Iranian shi'as are shia. And there's a Christian minority in the country that people forget, as well as a large contingent of Kurds (who are sunnis, but not sunnis like some fundy sects). And that's just for starters.

Syria is a mess of factions. If they were to be stuck with an al-Assad at the helm, they'd be better off digging up Hafez. Right now, the leadership is corrupt, the economy is teetering on the precipice, and rough times are ahead no matter what happens.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:51 PM

10. Religious sectarianism makes people stupid.

the Shi'ite minority support Assad because he's one of them, and the Sunnis will engage in anti-Shi'ite ethnic cleansing when Assad falls because of that.

Fuck religion.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:18 AM

2. So what?

Not much oil in Syria.

Libya has lots of oil, so it was sensible to get involved.

Regards,

Third-Way Manny

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 02:27 AM

3. The difference between them, the US didn't "coordinate" one set of militias in Somalia.

The blood is on our hands for Syria, no matter how much Americans want to deny it, we've been involved in this civil war since before it even was triggered when armed insurrection broke out in March of 2011 in Dara'a. Along with the UK and France, the US trained, supported and encouraged the opposition in exile to try to overthrow the Assad regime, leading to a slaughterhouse where both sides have killed tens of thousands.

The Saudis and GCC states have also funneled money to the opposition, and have since fighting broke out provided most of the money to hire Sunni Jihadis streaming into Syria from abroad and buying their arms. But, the US and the western powers have been planning and running the show.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 04:36 AM

4. You make Assad seem like an innocent victim

of foreign aggression against a progressive democratic leader.

When widespread peaceful demonstrations started early last year, no one forced Assad to focus on repression rather than negotiating an opening up of the regime.

Unless one assumes that all Syrians are doomed to repressive rule due to the makeup of their country, surely they deserve a chance for something better than an Assad hereditary dictatorship.

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:20 AM

6. He is a hereditary minority dictator but the people of Syria are a victim of foreign aggression.

Last edited Sun Dec 30, 2012, 10:04 AM - Edit history (1)

There are two central facts that one must bear in mind about Syria. First, the Assad regime is based in the minority Alawite sect of Shi'ia Islam that was established under Bashar's father in the mid-1960s, and its alliances with Iran and Russia. The second is the growing regional and global power of Sunni power fueled by oil wealth based in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. That makes this essentially part of a religious war between the two major branches of Islam, a perennial struggle that the U.S. has taken sides in, very much at its own peril. The US is now openly involved as an antagonist and mercenary auxillary in a 13 century old religious war that complicates its already deteriorating position in post-Cold War shakeout.

Bashar al Assad is not my idea of a progressive democratic leader, and I care not a whiff for him. But, I do know after the examples of Libya and Kosovo what will happen to the Alawite regime when and if the Sunni majority (about 75% of the Syrian population) backed by foreign Jihadis take power and the Ba'ath loses power over the Syrian state and Army. Unfortunately, under the current situation, the regime is left with no acceptable bargaining position so they will continue to fight.

There will be a wholesale ethnic cleansing of minorities out of Damascus and the other coastal cities or the country will breakup into warring enclaves in the style of Beirut, insuring further bloodshed for decades to come. A suicidal last-ditch launch of chemical weapons against targets in Turkey and throughout the region is a possibility. Genocide is another real danger, and I would count that the worst-case outcome. A Beirut-style breakup into warring enclaves is also not satisfactory outcome, unless one's goal is simply to continue bleeding Syria and to keep it divided. These adverse end-games and outcomes should have been considered more carefully when the US and its allies planned their intervention.

As for the the standard media framing of the war as an unprovoked slaughter of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators by the military, that is a myth. Most observers acknowledge that the civil war got started in Dara'a and the key date was April 8, 2011. I suggest you do some research (Wiki's timeline for the Syrian Civil War is a place to start), and you will see that at the start, more Syrian policemen were killed than demonstrators, who were not unarmed and not peaceful. The tanks didn't roll in the streets until the 13th in Dara'a, after some components of Syrian Army units defected and heavy fighting broke out.

I am afraid that what follows the Assad hereditary dictatorship will be worse for most Syrians than the regime that is being swept away by a larger religious war. Our involvement in that spreading war threatens further blowback for ourselves that will make 9/11 look trivial.



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Response to leveymg (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:53 PM

11. I'm grateful for your efforts to educate DUers about the significance and reality of Syria

There's this weird disconnect between DUers who appear to want to know the truth of what's really happening there and those who persist in trying to make it an Arab Spring type grass roots revolution.

Your educational outreach is appreciated.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 01:48 PM

13. Criticism of intervention is not registering support for the regime.

It's hard work challenging conventions held by so many, and I don't enjoy being disliked for voicing skeptical, and sometimes contrary views. I wish there were more people here who knew the details and background of the subject better, or at least were able to debate with civility.

I wouldn't mind being proven wrong about some of my conclusions about the terrible violence that is about to happen in the region, and what it will do to us, if the trajectory isn't changed.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:15 AM

5. It is already a failed state and likely to stay that way.

At least I see nobody likely to restore order any time soon.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 10:38 AM

7. Ah, *another* libertarian paradise. nt

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 12:48 PM

9. When Richard Engel was talking to Rachel Maddow about being kidnapped in Syria...

He said that when the Assad regime falls that it will lead to a wave of sectarian brutality stretching from Beirut to Baghdad!

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