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Sat Mar 15, 2014, 03:09 PM

An unhappy anniversary: Why the end of Bashar al-Assad is as far away as ever and how Syria’s rebels

lost the plot.

Today marks three years since Syrians rose up against their President. In the time since then, unwavering support for the status quo from Russia and Iran, the unwillingness of the West to intervene, and the increasing disarray of the anti-government factions have all combined to ensure that they may never succeed, writes Patrick Cockburn.

As the first wave of the Arab uprisings broke in early 2011, President Bashar al-Assad sounded confident that Syria would be immune to the turmoil. He was not alone: at a meeting of 10 foreign ambassadors in Damascus in February that year the diplomats without exception dismissed suggestions that the revolutionary turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia might spread to Syria.

The conviction that Syria was more stable than other Arab states was rooted in the belief that Mr Assad was relatively popular; Syria’s long opposition to Israel and the US gave it powerful nationalist credentials; abject poverty was less than in Egypt and Yemen. Yet, within a month of the ambassadors’ meeting, protests began to gather pace and the government responded brutally and with extreme violence, treating dissent as a revolutionary attempt to overthrow the state, similar to the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency of 1979-82 which concluded with the slaughter of some 20,000 people in Hama. Many believe that it was the government’s overreaction that turned protests into an insurgency. The government claims that from the beginning it was facing an armed Islamist revolt funded and supplied by the Gulf monarchies allied to Western intelligence services.

With what, in retrospect, seems like embarrassing speed, foreign governments – and many Syrians – swung from saying nothing would happen to treating the departure of President Assad as a foregone conclusion.


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Reply An unhappy anniversary: Why the end of Bashar al-Assad is as far away as ever and how Syria’s rebels (Original post)
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 OP
TwilightGardener Mar 2014 #1
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 #2

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 03:18 PM

1. So what if Assad keeps on dictatin'? I never understood why it was so important

that he leaves or gets overthrown, at least enough that we took a big stand on it (without the realistic means to back it up). The Jong Il's and Jong Un's continue on, the Castros continue on, all sorts of nuts and assholes continue on in history--we deal with it. Assad isn't winning much, he's got a broken populace and a broken country full of jihadis, Russia isn't winning much since they probably could have kept their naval base under most circumstances, and potential gas pipelines--who wants to count on Syria to keep those intact, unsabotaged and flowing to where they're supposed to go? Obviously you can't trust Russia, you could probably trust Assad even less.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 03:34 PM

2. The best way I can answer that, I think, is to look at the huge missed opportunity

Assad had in the very beginning of the protests. For one, they were out of touch with their people
and also dumb enough not to work with them..and it escalated and he still continued to respond
with brutality...then in come the jihadi groups.

The rest is history..how does any nation revive what they have badly broken?

Assad may survive but it will not be shocking for this to go on for years..you're correct, imo.
he has a broken country, that can't be fixed easily by anyone.

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