Kinda feels like there should be a thread on Syria


The article states that it’s a condensed study, I don’t believe any one article can accurately describe the situation and whilst in this era of #fakenews it seems increasingly uncommon for rigor to be applied to the formation of ideas drawn from data I would like to believe that anyone reading such an article would use it as a launching point for investigations into the data that it’s contradicting rather than just accepting the points it’s making at face value.

The article describes Assad’s regime as autocratic, violent and directly responsible for civilian deaths in the pursuit of counter-insurgency, Taleb isn’t giving them a blank state. He also mentions that rebellion did not start life as a purely Salafist one but it has over time been increasingly commanded by a minority salafist movement.

Agreed about the issue of women’s rights but again, the article is a simplification, not least because I wouldn’t say Assad’s regime practices liberal western rights. In fact part of the point of the article is comparing it’s structure to that of the rebels.


But I’m saying it’s not just ‘condensing’ something - it’s actively constructing a binary that I don’t think otherwise exists.


By doesn’t exist, are you referring to people’s perception of what’s happening in Syria or the reality of the situation? I understand that on the surface of it such a depiction of each side might seem at best as if it lacks in nuance, but it’s countering an existing narrative about events in Syria.


naw I just mean its not the reality. I just don’t see how offering yet more gross simplification effectively ‘counters’ the existing narrative? I think it’s fair to say most people in the uk/Europe/US don’t really know who all the combatants are in the first place.


Perhaps it’s just me but I actually don’t think most of the coverage of the conflict has been grossly simplified. Or at least has been largely focused on the plight of the Syrian people particularly those trapped in Rebel held areas.

That said I have to ask if you don’t think there’s a marked difference in the politics of the regime and the goals of the rebels who do you think the rebels are and who, at this point do you think is funding them?


Re; the western coverage, to focus mainly on the plight of Syrian people is itself a simplification in that it means they’re all cast as apolitical victims caught between opposing factions with no agency of their own. I really don’t think much of the coverage has been about the different sides, what they stand for, whose interests they serve etc. This includes the different rebel factions and, of course, the regime.

That said I have to ask if you don’t think there’s a marked difference in the politics of the regime and the goals of the rebels who do you think the rebels are and who, at this point do you think is funding them?

I haven’t said there’s not a difference in the politics of the regime and the goals of the rebels? I have questioned the attempt to refocus attention onto the (constructed) politics of each side. I have absolutely no doubt that many of the rebels are deeply conservative and some are probably even what we would term ‘extremists’. I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that this started as a relatively peaceful youth-led uprising against an anti-democratic authoritarian regime. and as such I don’t think we can honestly engage in second guessing about what who be worse at this stage. Assad ensured that whatever political movements came out of the Arab Spring degenerated into a bloodbath rather than a transition to a new iteration of the Syrian state that was slightly less rotten to the core. Political (‘Islamic’) extremism doesn’t just come out of nowhere and it almost always serves someone’s agenda…


This I’d agree with to some extent which is actually why I would say questioning this narrative is important, not least because it’s worth mentioning the Syrian people largely support Assad’s regime not that this would excuse any atrocities committed by them however it would suggest that any calls for external involvement to achieve anything other than humanitarian aims should be carefully scrutinized.

Yes the article I posted is a simplification not least because it omits the existence of groups like the SDF (although given that the SDF are largely operating in Northern Syria and the article is largely focused on Aleppo that could be excused) however it’s also presenting something other than the “good vs evil” narrative that I’ve largely seen presented elsewhere.

This is kind of the crux of the issue, yes it may have started as a peaceful youth-led uprising but, previous examples of such movements have unfortunately shown that if not supported they can often by co-opted by people who would largely be deemed extremists. The New York times published an excellent long read about how this happened repeatedly during the Arab Spring with the factionalism and anarchy that’s now being seen in both Libya and Yemen and the subsequent loss of life.


oh to the last point I was just going to say, I agree with this, however the article wasn’t implying it does “come out of nowhere”, and certainly I don’t think that, rather than it can take hold in situations where there’s instability.


Without using ‘good v. evil’ frames, I think we can still all agree Assad is a despot. I’d also interrogate the claim that most people ‘support’ the Assad regime by looking at how and why that choice (if it existed) would be completely constrained in the first place.

Cant vouch for the accuracy of the exact numbers but this is a breakdown of some of the opposition (it’s probably already out of date, they’ll be regrouping)

I basically I agree with you, I don’t think we can be valorising or rooting for any side at this stage, especially not from our very limited viewpoint. I worry all we can hope for is the safest possible movement/displacement/forced transfer (whatever we call it) of the most people. too bad europe with its population of half a billion people can’t cope with another few hundred thousand.


also it’s pretty depressing to think about how this is probably gonna start to fall off the news agenda now and even though it’s far from over


Mainly stuff about raqqa but it shows how fucking complicated a tiny portion of the overall conflict is.


Also this is crazy:

Daily updates on how the offensive is going and how many ISIS recruits they merk. How do they get a signal?





some updates here guys

god knows how we avoided WW3 when you think of how western media outlets allowed themselves to be suckered repeatedly by propaganda and vampires like samantha power over the last 6 years.


from the nty article:

In December [2016], [Joudeh] said, “Syrians abroad who believe in the revolution would call me and say, ‘We lost Aleppo.’ And I would say, ‘What do you mean?’ It was only a Turkish card guarded by jihadis.” For these exiled Syrians, he said, the specter of Assad’s crimes looms so large that they cannot see anything else. They refuse to acknowledge the realities of a rebellion that is corrupt, brutal and compromised by foreign sponsors. This is true. Eastern Aleppo may not have been Raqqa, where ISIS advertised its rigid Islamist dystopia and its mass beheadings. But as a symbol of Syria’s future, it was almost as bad: a chaotic wasteland full of feuding militias — some of them radical Islamists — who hoarded food and weapons while the people starved.



Alternet is an activist site first and a news source second, and while I know there’s a real dearth of reliable sources here, I’d take it all with a fistful of salt. From what I’ve seen, they take an ‘all Western intervention is imperialism’ approach to their reporting and cherry-pick what they report on (ironically, given that that’s exactly what they’re accusing the press of doing)


tbf rania khalek is a pretty reliable journalist and that article chimes with the NYT one. she’s hardly pro-assad and while he is a cunt, there are more and more accounts emerging everywhere of what life under the various jihadi militias is like. almost all of them contradict the pat narrative of scrappy freedom fighters vs evil government. the YPG, for instance, have uncovered evidence of ethnic cleansing and genocide not just from isis but from the other rebel factions in towns they’ve been liberating.

tbh i don’t care if CNN, the guardian, bbc, whatever, never admit they got suckered/lied. i’m just glad that (so far) we haven’t launched a full on ground invasion of yet another country.