President Obama sought tooth and nail to distinguish himself from his predecessor but ended up adopting foreign policies that produced similar results: mayhem. Overindulgence and aloofness are two faces of the same coin. He was too clever by half. Both his reboot and reengagement policies ended up backfiring, and his desire not to step into a minefield in Syria ended up creating a black hole that is slowly sucking all in. President Obama has always sought to project an image of high intelligence, if not genius. But the key to success in politics lies more in diligence and the readiness to wade in even if, if not especially when, results are not guaranteed and the stakes high. It’s hubris to think that you can choose your crises. The best you can do is often, in the words of President Obama himself, “look before you leap.” Just don’t confuse staring vacantly with looking. On a related note, and rather than invoking Dr. Seuss when mocking President Obama’s (in)famous red line on Syria, Jon Stewart would have been more accurate if he used the term he had earlier reserved for Congress: procrasturbator.
Al-Baydah Massacre & Ethnic cleansing
Observers, experts and officials who are concerned about the fate of the Alawite and other minority community in Syria are justified of course. The more violence this conflict gets the more reasons to worry we have in this connection. But, for now, we should be very mindful of the fact that the genocide currently taking place in Syria, no matter how paradoxical and mad this may sound, is being perpetrated against the majority Arab Sunni population.
More than 95% of the dead, the missing, the detained, the internally displaced and the refugees are Sunni Arabs. The Arab Sunni population makes up less than 65% of the population. Every major documented massacre that has taken place since the beginning of the revolution to date has targeted the Arab Sunni population in one part of Syria or another. But the hardest hit of all are the Arab Sunni population of central Syria, especially Homs, where ethnic cleansing targeting Sunnis have been going on for the last two years.
But the ethnic cleansing campaign seems to be slowly moving to the coastal regions, with today’s loyalist militia attack on the town of Al-Bayda where close to 200 civilians have been executed according to latest reports. It seems reasonable to assume that the massacre may not be aimed at driving the Sunni population out of coastal areas, as this would be tall order at this stage, the Arab Sunnis population makes up close to 40% of the coastal population. For now, the purpose seems to be to spread fear and keep the Sunni population under control and the coastal areas relatively quiet as Assad and his militias focus their attention elsewhere. It’s a culling process rather than an all-out extermination effort.
Why is it important to know that? Because, as the majority population that maintains substantial presence in every corner of Syria, the Arab Sunni population is the organic cement that is holding the country together. The more beating they receive the more fractured the country gets and the more radical they themselves become. The U.S. cannot stall this radicalization process by ignoring opposition pleas for western support, and by failing to appreciate the depth of the tragedy the Arab Sunni population of Syria is living through. The Sunnis of Syria cannot be relied upon to care about anyone’s rights at this stage unless people begin caring about theirs.
The Battle in Tal Tamr
The other conflict in Syria pits Arab against Kurds, and recently it has been heating up again. In the Kurdish-majority town of Tal Tamr in the Hassakeh Province, the Kurdish local popular defense committees (YPGs) have for days being battling against tribal militias manned by former members of the Baath Party, elements that may no longer necessarily loyal to the Assad regime but which are afraid of living under Kurdish hegemony. The tribal militias were also supported by small units affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. At this stage, and after dozens of dead and wounded, the battles seem to have been resolved in favor of the local YPG fighters. But the situation remains tense. Tensions are also rising in the nearby provincial capital of Al-Hassakeh, with its highly mixed population: Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, among other minorities.
The Battle for Damascus International Airport
In the last few hours, two suicide bombings took place in and around Damascus International Airport followed by intense clashes pitting loyalists against rebel groups and Jabhat Al-Nusra. Major segments of the airport seem to have fallen under rebel control, at least temporarily. It’s not clear whether rebels intend on taking control of the airport. These videos are said to be taken from the scene http://youtu.be/G6y-XnUn9yc , http://youtu.be/M_X_Hp71_iQ
The famous Suspended Bridge of Deir Ezzor City, built during the French Mandate in the mid-1920s came tumbling down today due to targeted pounding of its foundations. Deir Ezzor City and the entire northeastern parts of the country have lost a major part of their modern identity today http://youtu.be/LzyWWfCVmNg , http://youtu.be/osBCr9nODxc
Aerial bombardment of Raqqah City leaves 10 dead http://youtu.be/tEzZxrGyJJA
Clashes take place between rebels and Turkish authorities near the border crossing of Akcakale http://youtu.be/konCmnh0d8Y
The pounding of rebel strongholds in Damascus City continues: Jobar http://youtu.be/bUVHJwxwRv4 Barzeh http://youtu.be/Zr3jW6B8NqE Zamalka http://youtu.be/CmicaxLUiIg
Aerial raids continue against the towns of Eastern Ghoutah: Ain Terma http://youtu.be/N6EZ6AN7nxs Kafar Batna http://youtu.be/KWkwzV17imk , http://youtu.be/Wnv0-hY71xI Saqba http://youtu.be/-xYEzFQcSX0 Mleihah http://youtu.be/W_maeeMOLp0
Leaked video: pro-Assad militias perpetrating a massacre somewhere in Damascus Suburbs, the exact date and whereabouts are not known, but the video was uploaded on April 18. We see throats being slit and a military truck then being used to run over the corpses of the dead http://youtu.be/3RV9zlG6bL8.
A second leaked video from Hama City shows a convoy of pro-Assad militias transporting corpses of dead civilians and rebels http://youtu.be/PCVFCu30GTc
Necessity is the Mother of Invention: rebels keep inventing their own smart weapons delivery systems to become a more effective fighting force on the field while protecting lives http://youtu.be/WIs-UoC7vC4 , http://youtu.be/PB8n899aoqQ
Rebels and loyalists clash in Sahel Al-Ghab, Hama http://youtu.be/FVrEzQWu9go , http://youtu.be/UoVITKRdEig