Bashar al-Assad's 21st Century Scorched Earth Policy

Bashar al-Assad's 21st Century Scorched Earth Policy

In Damascus, Bashar al-Assad’s military is bulldozing and blocking re-entrance to certain neighborhoods marked as slums. Ironically, these are neighborhoods full of people who were the first to rise up in armed resistance against Assad some months, and in many cases more than a year, ago.

According to reports, “the strategy appears to be to cripple and disperse the rebels through the destruction and encirclement of communities where they operate.” 

Security officials close to Assad don’t deny the military angle behind the bulldozing, and even admit that it is part of “counterinsurgency.” They say that the displaced rebels will be replaced with “Popular Committees,” which are regime-funded militias.

However, Damascus Gov. Bishar al-Sabben counters the security officials by saying the demolitions have nothing to do with the conflict. Rather, he says, they are part of “reorganization.” 

This could be true if the only neighborhoods they plan to reorganize are opposition communities. Otherwise, this looks like a scorched earth policy for the 21st century.