Looking at the war in Syria

Some months ago I examined why it is so hard to get word out of Syria; since then, even the official UN mission has struggled to gain access to suspected massacre sites in the country.  This opacity creates fertile ground for rumor in which even the most improbable atrocities gain credibility.  But you need only look at the video grab above of buildings in Homs (there are more at Alan Taylor’s In Focus blog at the Atlantic) to see that, in fact, the improbable might be all too true.  Thirty years ago, the current president’s father, Hafez al-Assad, destroyed the city of Hama to suppress resistance to his regime and, if anything, inflated the numbers of dead in order to magnify the lesson he was sending to other potential centers of rebellion.  Now the son, Bashar al-Assad, is trying the same tactics on the grounds while downplaying responsibility for the estimated 14,000 citizens killed since the rebellion began last year.  Unlike Gaddafi, who had no international friends to protect him, Bashar has Russia and China — both of which have effectively sheltered him in the belief that sanctioned international intervention is a dangerous precedent — and, of course, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, which thus far have done him little good.  Reports that the Assad regime is already finished, in spirit if not yet in fact, are encouraging but the spirit was transformed, too, in Tiananmen in 1989, Prague in 1968, and Budapest in 1956 and the facts took many decades and much hardship before they came to pass.

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Click here to see Al Jazeera’s undercover report from inside Syria.  Or here to see the questions behind Bashar al-Assad’s photo with Nicolas Sarkozy.  Or here to read about the CIA’s history of involvement in coups in Syria.

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