World View: Damascus Bombing Marks a Significant Change in Syria

World View: Damascus Bombing Marks a Significant Change in Syria

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Armed fighting continues across Syria
  • Damascus bombing marks a significant change in Syria
  • Taiwan’s weather bureau joins the fight for control of the South China Sea
  • U.S. to accept ‘Taiwan’ on entry forms

Armed fighting continues across Syria

Syrian rebels stand on a tank in Aleppo (EPA)
Syrian rebels stand on a tank in Aleppo (EPA)

Damascus, the capital city of Syria, is in a tense calm after six daysof intense fighting, centered around a bombing that killed four ofBashar al-Assad’s inner circle. The army has deployed tanks andhelicopter gunships to expel the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) fromDamascus, but the uprising is spreading to other areas of Syria thatwere used to be relatively quiet. There’s violence in Aleppo, whichhas been mostly quiet in the past because it is largely Alewite andChristian. In eastern Syria, the FSA has taken control of bordercheckpoints into Turkey and Iraq, cutting off trade to Damascus. Thecrossing into Erbil, Iraq, is especially significant because this is acrossing from the Kurdish regions of Syria. The Kurds have beensupporters of al-Assad, but FSA control of this checkpoint could meanthat the Kurds are turning against al-Assad. Al-Jazeera and Bloomberg

Damascus bombing marks a significant change in Syria

News reports from all over Syria indicate that there’s been asignificant change in the situation in Syria. It didn’t begin withWednesday’s bombing. During the last few weeks, there have been significant political and military defections, especially among theSunni leaders who are necessary to give credibility to Basharal-Assad. The bombing was a culmination of the defections, in thesense that it showed that the balance of power has changed, and thatal-Assad has lost his iron grip on the country, and there may bealmost no one left he can trust. Al-Assad himself is in hidingsomewhere, while rumors are spreading that his wife and children areMoscow.

Al-Assad’s ethnic group, the Alawites, comprise 12% of the population,but the Alawite communities always felt secure because al-Assadhad the country in an iron grip. That sense of security is gone now,as the majority Sunni community seems to be taking charge.

Syria is in a generational Awakening era because only one generationhas passed since the bloody, genocidal civil war that climaxed withthe slaughter of tens of thousands in 1982. An Awakening era isalways a generational political battle between the survivors of thatwar and the young people growing up after that war. The Awakening eraalways ends with a climactic event that establishes the victor betweenthese two generations, almost always the younger generation.America’s last Awakening era was the 60s and 70s, climaxing in theresignation of President Richard Nixon.

Though we won’t know for sure until it’s all over, Wednesday’s bombinghas all the earmarks of an Awakening era climax. Al-Assad and hissmall Alawite majority had been ruling through fear, but now the fearof al-Assad is receding as if a curse had been lifted. It’s possiblethat things will move very quickly now, and it’s even possible thatSyria’s civil war will collapse within a month, with al-Assad gone andall sides forming a unity government. Today, right now, that’s whatappears to be going on, but we can’t be sure that al-Assad won’t beable to carry on for a while longer, thanks to the help from his palsin Russia, Iran and Hizbollah.

An Awakening era civil war is faced with very powerful generationalforces to end in some sort of compromise. The Iraq war makes aninteresting comparison. The event that triggered the Awakening eraclimax was the bombing of the al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq, inFebruary 2006 by al-Qaeda in Iraq. That triggered a Sunni-Shia civilwar that might have ended much more quickly, had it not been for agreat deal of outside support for al-Qaeda. We now know that Basharal-Assad was actively helping al-Qaeda in Iraq, but we should notforget that powerful help of American news organizations, includingthe NY Times and NBC News, who coordinated their news cycles withal-Qaeda in Iraq to give them maximum help. These news organizationsmay be responsible for the deaths of thousands of additional people byprolonging the war. The powerful generational forces to end the warwere countered by powerful forces supporting the war — al-Qaeda,Syria and American news organizations.

Despite all that support given to al-Qaeda, the generational forcesfinally won out in 2007, when the civil war finally collapsed. See:“Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq”

So now, returning to Syria, we have equally powerful generationalforces driving toward a compromise, while we have Russia, Iran andHizbollah providing weapons and support to al-Assad with the objectiveof keeping the war going. So we have two powerful forces driving thecourse of the war in opposite directions. The generational forceswill win out, because the generational forces always win out, but thetime frame is never certain. But right now, today, at this moment, ifthings keep going the way things are going, it looks like we might beclose to a full Awakening era climax, and an end to the war. Reuters and Telegraph (London)

Taiwan’s weather bureau joins the fight for control of the South China Sea

Taiwan has kept a relatively low profile in the ongoing military andpolitical standoff over control of the South China Sea, but nowTaiwan’s Central Weather Bureau (CWB) is taking a stand. The CWB ismodifying its web site to show weather conditions for the SpratlyIslands as if they were part of Taiwan’s sovereign territory.Taiwan’s commercial relationship to the Spratlys is quite complex.Tension is already growing quickly following a military standoffbetween China and the Philippines last month, and now about 30 Chinesefishing vessels, escorted by armed Chinese warships, have arrived inthe Spratlys for fishing. Taiwan’s fishing industry is short ofmanpower, so Taiwan typically hires about 8,000 fishery migrantworkers from the Philippines, and some of those Filipino fishermen maygo to fish around the Spratly Islands in Taiwanese boats. There’s noway that this will end well. Taipai Times

U.S. to accept ‘Taiwan’ on entry forms

Taiwanese who are entering the United States can now list theircountry of citizenship as “Taiwan.” Formerly, they had to list theircountry as “China (Taiwan)”. Taipai Times

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