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June 19, 2012

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Alex

The typical path seems to be ex-Sunni insurgent against US forces, former member of Anbar Awakening, current volunteer in Syria

Fascinating; the inverse of the international jihadi.

Richard J

"One, two, a thousand Iraqs!"

jamie

maybe it's 'current volunteer in Syria, future contract security in Bahrain'.

alle

Most of the contested/liberated zones are near Syria's western border

It's partly demographic weight, but also about sectarian geography. The armed uprising is near 100% Sunni and Arab, and mostly rural. The band of territory stretching from Deraa up through the Damascus Countryside Governorate via Homs, Hama and Idleb into the Aleppo countryside is exactly that: Sunni Arab & rural, with poor Sunni in-migrant suburbs ringing the major cities also part of the action.

The main exception to this is Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in the north/northeast, both Sunni and Arab and not fully part of the uprising yet (particularly not Raqqa; Deir Z has seen rather serious fighting although it could be much worse). This is most likely b/c they're very heavily tribal.

For comparison, check casualty figures for Sweida (Druze), Lattakia-Tartous (Alawite) and the mid-upperclass Damascus/Aleppo city centers: very low, and almost always in local Sunni enclaves. Kurdish regions in Hassake and northern Aleppo Gov., same thing.

I doubt there's actually a strategy at all on the rebel side, since there's no functioning command. But if they ever develop one, have a look at western Homs province: rural Alawite and Christian communities rubbing up against a Sunni Arab majority population, has a porous border with the Sunni Islamist-infested the Lebanese north, and is the most strategic piece of transport infrastructure in the country: joins the crucial north-south road with the main mountain pass road connecting central Syria to the coast, and all the Syrian oil pipelines which go past the Homs refineries through Tel-Kalakh towards the coast. Except for the terrain, which is so-so, it's an Islamist rebel's dream, and the regime knows it. The violence here has been just as gruesome as you could expect, with major fighting in Quseir, Tel-Kalakh, Homs, Rastan, etc, and the Houla massacre and so on.

sf reader

Hmmm, could be crochet, and the red star looks like embroidery over either the knitting or crochet. Doesn't have the look of intarsia about it. Hard to tell, though, as the image quality isn't great and Ravelry does not appear to have any free downloadable patterns for "Syrian insurgency scarf", alas.

CMcM

However, if we assume that well-publicised civilian massacres generate pressure for foreign intervention - and an increased supply of weapons and volunteers from elsewhere in the region - then this might be considered an acceptable risk, especially if it further alienates the civilian population from the regime.

There are some allegations that it goes a bit further than that.

(original source here, for those not dependant on Babelfish for German translation)

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