US Cruise Missiles Hit Syrian Air Base

Conclusion of a NYT information article on last night’s strikes: “The decision to launch an attack was a major reversal for Mr. Trump, who criticized former President Barack Obama in 2013 for considering strikes against Syria after a previous chemical attack.” 
There is no side with clean hands there that I know of – not even the far-left Kurdish groups. (I understand that the latter groups are quite happy with the American support that they receive. Who knows how long that will last?)
An engineer I know from Lebanon said that she didn’t really understand why groups were fighting to overthrow Assad in the first place — after all, education and medical care in Syria (up to the start of the civil war) were free and quite good.
No American newspaper or media agency of any sort that I know of has reporters on all sides of the various front lines; most don’t have a single reporter anywhere inside Iraq. We know from the first and second Gulf wars against Iraq that embedding reporters with any one side necessarily means that the information that comes out from those reporters will be slanted towards that side — or else the reporter is declared persona non grata or worse (arrested, tortured, deported, or even murdered). Let us remember that being an honest reporter can be very, very dangerous. If correspondent tells the truth and it hurts somebody, repercussions can be quite severe. To be called an ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘the most dishonest people ever’ by the politician who has told more bald-faced lies than any other figure I can think of in American history, is threatening.
One thing I like about this map – from IS Janes  via the NYT – is that the colors are much better than usual, so you can see who controls what territory.

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  1. n engineer I know from Lebanon said that she didn’t really understand why groups were fighting to overthrow Assad in the first place

    Quite likely, as long as you were apolitical and did not get in the way of some Assad crony’s desire to make money you could live there quite comfortably before the civil war.

    However the Assad regimes, father and son, were highly corrupt and tended to rule by terror and repression in many cases. Think of Saddam Hussain’s regime only perhaps a bit nastier if you attracted police attention?

    However a major issue seems to have been drought and overexploitation of the water table in parts of eastern(?) by regime cronies which drove a large number of farmers and dependents into the cities, particularly Damascus. The regime apparently did little or nothing to help these economic exiles either to stay on their farms or when they arrived in the cities.

    Then there was probably the standard Sunni–Shia split. A majority of Syrians are Sunni and the Al Assad family and main supporters are some small Shia sect.

    Combine all this with a lot of highly educated city-folk who were not all that fond of their “leader” and the situation was ripe for at least demonstrations and perhaps calls for more freedom or democracy when the Arab Spring swept the region.

    I am sure there were many other reasons, perhaps the USA plotting to overthrow Assad? I don’t have a link any more but there is some US diplomatic correspondence pre-civil war suggesting ways to undermine Assad.


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