This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Killing A Country

"After the destruction and killings that took place, it is difficult for the Syrian people to coexist [in] a central state."
Mustafa Osso, Kurdish leader, vice-president, Syrian National Coalition

"Syria as we've known it since it was formed one hundred years ago -- it's finished, I think. What the international community will have to recognize is de facto partition, and work with different parties to try and stabilize those areas [representing sectarian, ethnic, tribal conflict]."
Andrew Tabler, Syria expert, Washington Institute for Near East policy

"Even though a lot of newly independent states after the Second World War in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have borders that were drawn by colonizers, the strong tendency within international law has been to respect those boundaries."
Kenneth Schultz, professor, political science, Stanford University
A Syrian man carries his two girls as he walks across the rubble after a barrel-bomb attack on the rebel-held neighborhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Sept. (KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man carries his two girls as he walks across the rubble after a barrel-bomb attack on the rebel-held neighborhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Sept. 17. (KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images)

A hundred years ago, disparate ethnic and religious communities were patched together into a single state and that state was named Syria. Originally when France had colonizing rule over the area, French authorities thought of localizing boundaries that would produce smaller countries, one for the Alawite minority, another for Druze, another for Aleppo, and another small state for Christians, and one for the Kurds. Actually six statelets were contemplated.

The end result, however, was to crowd the various disparate populations into a single state. Any restiveness from among the various populations was kept tamped down by the dictatorial autocracies that resulted, through intimidation and violence. The situation certainly not unique to Syria; it prevailed throughout the Middle, Africa, Asia where colonial powers played their boundary-and-naming games to their hearts' content.

Once a dominating figure is removed, however, just as occurred with Yugoslavia, the constituent parts renew ancient enmities and agitate for separation in recognition of their ethnic, tribal, clan, religious differences, irreconcilable once the unifying force of threat and violence has been removed. First in Iraq, then in Libya, and now in Syria; total destabilization and chaotic anarchy, branches of Islam reawakened from their temporary truce to embark on bloodshed.

Division of the affected geography takes its organic turn, and demands follow that the separation be recognized and respected and given legal authority. The Kurds in Iraq and Syria have effectively asserted their regional sovereignty much to Turkey's rage, though they have not yet been given official recognition. The Kurdish regions, in fact, come closer to the Western ideal of tolerance and democracy than any other region in the Middle East save for Israel.

Iraq did nominally recognize the three areas that emerged as a natural consequence of the removal of Saddam Hussein; one for the Kurds, another for the dominant Shiites and a third for the minority Sunnis. But the Shiite majority long held in thrall to Saddam and his Sunni supporters was unable to abide a call for equality among all three, inviting a lash-back that resulted in the Islamic State, which then spread its venomous violent entitlements into Syria and beyond.

In Syria, the minority Alawite Shiite regime of the Assad dynasty has devastated the country in its furiously inflamed response to the majority Sunni demand for equality. There was no military response too savage to be used by Syria's President Bashar al-Assad against his defiant civilian population who supported the Sunni rebel army responding to Assad's brutality by countering his forces with their own.

A Syrian man carries a body after it was removed from rubble following a reported barrel bomb attack by government forces in Aleppo on May 20, 2015.
Zein Al-RifaI/AFP/Getty Images    A Syrian man carries a body after it was removed from rubble following a reported barrel bomb attack by government forces in Aleppo on May 20, 2015.

As grotesquely violent as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been, Syria's military has been even more so, simply without the public relations display that Islamic State is so fond of. The difference of course, is that the butchery is being carried out by a state against its own people, not merely a band of jihadist terrorists rampaging through the landscape to declare their conquests representative of their new and growing terror-state.

Prior to the outbreak of Syria's civil war, while Bashar al-Assad was still a smiling autocrat, not yet emerging into history as a blood-saturated paranoid-lunatic-tyrant, he presided over a population of 23-million people. Of that number fully half has been displaced; 7-million internally and a further four million as refugees, a huge number of whom now flood Europe for haven and a future.

So while the regime in which the Alawite sect of President Assad  controls Damascus and the Alawite region along the Mediterranean coast along with  other cities and connecting corridors as one portion, the central government no longer has de facto authority over other regions. The Kurdish Syrians have authority over the northeast while the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant holds the major portion of the Sunni east.

"What we have today is a partition that no one wants to acknowledge formally", Ahmad Shami, an opposition leader from suburban Damascus stated. The simple fact is that a quarter-million Syrians have been slaughtered in the past four years of civil conflict, and most have found death at the command of their president. How likely is it that the majority Sunnis will complacently agree to a unified country should peace ever arrive?

The Sunni rebels who control areas in the north and south will have every reason to demand that their numbers, heritage and sacrifices merit them their very own parcel of Syria. And the Druze as well are eyeing the possibility of southern Syrian autonomy of their own. The conflict has created a poisonous aura of sectarian and ethnic hatred. The puzzle of mixed-populations in Aleppo and Damascus would have to be faced.

With partition will inevitably come the crisis of ongoing demographic changes, as the various divisions further divide themselves, cleansing each region of the presence of those who do not reflect the majority monoculture/ethnicity/sect. During the process there will be account-settling, venomous accusations, campaigns of slander and disentitlements, reflective of the descent into deadly madness that afflicted India with the partition resulting in Pakistan; Pakistan with the partition resulting in Bangladesh.


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