Friday, October 9, 2015

The bad guys don't always lose in the Middle East

The bad guys don't always lose in the Middle East


While America is busy high-fiving or running victory laps or spiking the football or whatever the metaphor of the day is over the killing of Osama bin Laden (even though increasingly it looks like bin Laden in 2011 was a lonely guy watching re-runs of his most popular videos between beard applications of Just for Men...but I digress), anyone notice that the much hyped Arab Spring is wilting in the desert heat?

In Syria, in a shocking development, the guys with the tanks are winning:

DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian government has gained the upper hand over a seven-week uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior official declared Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the leadership believes its crackdown will crush protests that have begun to falter in the face of hundreds of deaths and mass arrests.

The remarks by Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr. Assad who often serves as an official spokeswoman, suggested that a government accustomed to adapting in the face of crises was prepared to weather international condemnation and sanctions. Her confidence came in stark contrast to appearances just two weeks ago, when the government seemed to stagger before the breadth and resilience of protests in dozens of towns and cities.

“I hope we are witnessing the end of the story,” she said in an hourlong interview, for which a reporter was allowed in Syria for only a few hours. “I think now we’ve passed the most dangerous moment. I hope so, I think so.”

As much as we love Gandhi, MLK< etc., violence sure wins a lot of the time, doesn't it? Putting things in perspective, it seems like the first two popular uprisings, in Tunisia and Egypt, caught the ruling dictators off guard, and while Yemen may be a slow motion victory for the masses, elsewhere the ruling elites are responding with brutal force and crushing the revolts -- in Libya, Bahrain, and now in Syria.

Clearly, the options for the United States and the West are few, if any. We did intervene in Libya, of course, but after the momentum had already swung back to Gadhafi, and look how that's going now. Killing bin Laden was a fantastic thing, but in the long run it may be more about justice for what happened in 2001 than a game changer for 2011. We can spike the football in Abbottabad, I guess, but the game is being played back on the road to Damascus, and it's not going nearly as well. 

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Will Bunch
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