The Syrian Knot

A few years ago I wrote a piece that is surprisingly relevant today.

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30 Responses to The Syrian Knot

  1. JW Bell says:

    In 4 years Syria has become more Alawite, from about 12% to 16%. What’s the over-under in 4 more years.

    • MawBTS says:

      Is this driven by Sunni refugees leaving the country? Google tells me there’s 4.8m displaced Syrians (not sure on the sect). If so, the trend might reverse. When the war ends, a lot of those will be coming back.

    • albatross says:

      One plausible bet would be a continuous slow uptrend for another couple years, followed by an abrupt drop to 0% after Assad is deposed.

      Understanding the ethnic/religious dynamics involved makes the situation a lot clearer–Assad isn’t going to step down or make peace because if he does, his whole extended family and religion will be erased from the Earth, less a few refugees who manage to get away in time. Once you understand this, you understand that no amount of international pressure or condemnation will move him. Nor will the threat of US/NATO involvement. Nor will the long-term costs of getting the Russians/Iranians/Hezbollah into the war on his side, which I assume are substantial. We may be able to threaten or bribe him into changing some tactics (not using nerve gas, not bombing hospitals), but only to the extent he believes he can win without them.

  2. j says:

    Obama did not bomb Assad in 2013 because “I’m prepared to give that order. But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” We feel better now that America HAS a Commander in Chief.

  3. NodobyExpectsThe... says:

    About the way the Alawites got in power in Syria, isnt there a possible HBD angle too?
    I thought one of the things that got the French in trouble in their mandate, was to establish a more meritocratic system than the Ottoman millet.

    I mean, Alawites dont do cousin marriage so often. At least not at the drop of a hat like the Sunni Arabs.
    And they look whiter to me than the average Syrian, and substantially more than the average ME Arab. Couldnt it be that they are like the Copts or other ME Christians? Genetically closer to the pre-muslims invasion pob? Even without counting consanguinity ,having lower Yemeni, Arabian Peninsula, Sub-Saharan African admixture sure helps IQ by itself.

  4. Jim says:

    Getting involved in all this Middle Eastern madness was a huge mistake. We seem totally trapped now with no good choices.

    • albatross says:

      Actually, just not getting further involved is a choice we could make. Trump could get up tomorrow, have a sudden rush of brains to the head, and tell his national defense advisors “Hey, guys, new plan. Let’s get all our troops the hell out of Syria, stop bombing them, and let this bloody clusterfuck become someone else’s problem.”

      I don’t expect this to happen, for a variety of reasons. But it is actually a choice we could make.

  5. Leonard says:

    Or we could revert to classic international law and just stay out. This would result in Assad reconquering Syria. Seems like the best outcome available to me.

  6. bob sykes says:

    Whatever or whoever is responsible for the gas attack, it is pretty obvious that our missile attack aided ISIS. Is anyone actually fighting ISIS other than Iran and its allies?

  7. AppSocRes says:

    I regret to say I suffered under the delusion that Trump was man enough to stand up against the cabals of neocon loons and Zionist campaign contributors that seem to be running this country. I’ll not make that mistake again regarding any candidate for public office.

    I’d write LOL in response to Professor Cochrane’s original column except that it’s hard to find humor in a situation that sees the USA further destabilizing the Middle East and engaging in provocations that inch us closer to a confrontation with Russia.

    • dain says:

      oh get a grip on yourself. he bombed an empty airfield and reiterated he’s not going to do a fullscale invasion. this isn’t 2003.

      • AppSocRes says:

        In case you haven’t noticed the Russian’s are not sharing your equanimity. And if Trump has failed to resist neocon pressures to do something as inane as this it does not bode well for his future actions. This interview provides an analysis from Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, ret., who now teaches seminars on the intersection of domestic and international politics, . Start at about five or ten minutes in if the full 17 minutes and the rather inane intro is too much for you.

  8. Ursiform says:

    I talked to some Raytheon employees who were happy about the strike …

  9. JRM says:

    Back in 2013, Edward Luttwak said it two weeks before you did. You paraphrased his column.

    A strategy of prolonged civil war helps Israel. If no Syrian faction can prevail, then no Syrian faction will be able to defend Syrian land against Israeli aggression. Israel has already taken land from Syria, the Golan Heights. When the time is right, Israel can take even more land from a fatigued Syria.

    • reiner Tor says:

      Regime change can guarantee civil war into the foreseeable future. The Free Syrian Army (which is itself one of the weakest factions) is an umbrella organization of dozens of small militias or armed groupings, which are unlikely to stick together past the unlikely event of their victory in the civil war. Al-Qaeda (al-Nusra Front, or whatever its recent Syrian incarnation is called) is obviously incapable of governing the country, especially since it also has some smaller sub-groups and allies that would likely turn against it after victory. In fact, ISIS was just such a faction of al-Qaeda originally. There are some other factions as well. Obviously if Assad’s government were to collapse, a Libyan style civil war would ensue for a very long time. It’s not like there is a shadow government, not even a horrible one.

    • reiner Tor says:

      By the way Greg was tongue in cheek. This Luttwak fellow is just evil. What he’s proposing would lead to the death and suffering of way more children than a few sarin attacks here and there.

  10. marcel proust says:

    Bomb them all and let Allah sort them out?

  11. Assad can be reasoned with, but actual Jihadist cannibals who repeatedly gas civilians can’t. Fuck them into the dirt. The only thing we have to lose here is an oil pipeline- Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia will have to do without.

    Actually, they won’t have to, because someone injected POTUS with a serum prepared from the blood of John McCain.

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