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View Diary: A Brief Background on Syria (22 comments)

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  •  You forgot to mention the Hama massacre of 1982. (19+ / 0-)

    That was an important event in modern Syrian history.

    The conservative Muslim Brotherhood had been clashing with the Arab Socialist Baathists in the two decades following the 1963 Baathist coup; the Islamists had been experiencing some recent success using insurgent tactics against government officials, including a nearly successful assassination of Hafez al-Assad in 1980.

    In February 1982 an army unit was ambushed in Hama by a local guerrilla commander, who called for an uprising in the city. The Islamists massacred some seventy Baath party members, and the government responded by massacring twenty thousand Hama residents.

    Most importantly, the brutal government reaction proved to be effective, not only at putting down the insurrection, but in sending the insurgents into disarray and discouraging other insurrections.  That puts the Syrian government reaction to the Arab Spring in perspective.  It made some concessions, but as soon as protests started to take on the character of insurrection, it resorted to tried and true tactics: brutal suppression.  The insecurity stemming from the fact the government is dominated by the minority Alawite sect may also have contributed to the government's readiness to use overwhelming force, although it's probably an oversimplification to boil everything down to that.

    A historical lesson remains from the 1982 massacre: force sometimes works. The problem with historical lessons as always is which lesson applies in the current situation.

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 08:46:01 AM PDT

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