Friday, April 1
Watch out for spattering propaganda goo, Part 2
If you haven't seen Part 1, please read it first.
From Foreign Policy magazine, December 23, 2015, Syria's Stalingrad:
Homs, Syria — More than four years of relentless shelling and shooting have ravaged beyond recognition this city, which once served as the symbolic capital of the revolution.
As far as the government of Syria is concerned, the war in Homs is over. Rebel factions were defeated more than a year ago in the Old City, and the last holdouts, who carried on the revolt from the suburb of al-Waer, signed a cease-fire agreement this month. A few weeks before Christmas, busloads of fighters quit al-Waer for rebel-held villages to the north, under what the Syrian government and the United Nations hailed as a breakthrough cease-fire agreement to bring peace to one of the Syrian war’s most symbolic battlefields.
Gov. Talal al-Barazi, an energetic Assad-supporting Sunni, has been instrumental in pushing the cease-fires in Homs’s Old City and recently in al-Waer district. But almost none of the pro-uprising Sunnis who once filled its center have returned, and at times he seems to be presiding over a graveyard — an epic ruin destined to join Hiroshima, Dresden, and Stalingrad in the historical lexicon of siege and destruction.
Authorities showcase the reconstruction of Homs to spread a clear message: They intend to regain full control of the country. If they can tame Homs, a Sunni city where the majority of people actively embraced the revolt, they can do it anywhere.
There’s another more menacing message in the Homs settlement, however, as the neighborhoods that wholeheartedly sided with the revolution were entirely destroyed and have been left to collapse after the government’s victory. Almost no Sunnis have been allowed to return. Displaced supporters of the revolt from Homs understand that this is the regime’s second wave of punishment — they might never be allowed to go home.
This is the Homs model from the regime’s perspective: surround and besiege rebel-held areas until the price is so high that any surviving fighters surrender. The destruction left behind serves as a deterrent for others. Supporters of the government say that fear of a repeat of the ravaging of Homs is one major reason why militias around Damascus, like Zahran Alloush’s Army of Islam, have largely kept their indiscriminate shelling of the city center to a minimum.
The rebels, of course, take a different lesson: Assad will annihilate any opposition he can, unless the rebels fight hard and long enough to win, secure an enclave, or, at the very least, force the government to allow safe passage to another rebel-held area. Only force can extract concessions from the state.
[...]From Voltaire Network, March 4, 2012, The journalist-combatants of Baba Amr:
Member States of NATO and the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] were unable to launch a conventional attack against Syria. However, for ten months they have been laying the groundwork by waging a low-intensity war coupled with an economic and media assault. The city of Homs became the symbol of the conflict. The Free "Syrian" Army seized the neighborhoods of Baba Amr and Inchaat and proclaimed an Islamic Emirate that heralds its political program.
With the backing of Russia, still traumatized by her experience with the Islamic Emirate of Ichkeria, and China, eager to see the Syrian government protect its citizens, the Syrian National Army stormed the stronghold on 9 February after all mediation attempts had failed.
Defeated, the Free "Syrian" Army soon entrenched itself in an area of approximately 40 hectares, which was immediately sealed off by loyalist forces; it steadily withered and eventually fell on 1 March.
In retaliation, the remaining armed elements of the Emirate massacred the Christians in the two villages they ripped through on their way to exile in Lebanon.
[...]As everyone who follows the war news from Syria (or just reads Wikipedia's article) knows, the Free Syrian Army became an umbrella term for scores of anti-Syrian government militias, each of which supported by one or more foreign governments -- Western, Turkish, Sunni Arab.
As for Zahran Alloush, he is famously associated with Al Saud and it's likely his army is supported by the Saudi government.
These points and ones in Voltaire Network's report don't make an appearance in the Foreign Policy article, which was written by the same person, Thanassis Cambanis, whose March 29 article for Foreign Policy The Syrian Revolution Against Al Qaeda I quoted in Part 1.
To be continued.