28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘Aleppo

Syria: Everything is normal

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A thought-provoking (in a strange sort of way) article from the New York Times: Life in Syria’s Capital Remains Barely Touched by Rebellion

Just ignore the part about Aleppo being the second-largest city (news sources have been getting this one wrong for months). Damascus is the second-largest. Aleppo is the largest. Which is not to say that Damascus isn’t important.

But Damascus, be it at the beauty salon, in its somnolent neighborhoods or in its fear-stricken mosques, remains the linchpin, a reality that even activists acknowledge. Until protests reach this capital, their thinking goes, Syria’s leadership will avoid the fate of its ossified equivalents in places like Egypt and Tunisia. And so far, Damascus — along with Aleppo, the nation’s second-largest city — has stayed firmly on the margins, as anger builds toward both cities from Syrians bearing the brunt of the uprising. “Trust me, everything is normal,” insisted a manicurist at the salon.

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Written by M. James

September 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm

An “internal affair”

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Turn the clock back three months. From this post, here was my take on Turkish-Syrian relations:

If Turkey is to “trust the masses” and maintain its role as a supporter of the Arab Awakening, it cannot support a Syrian regime that appears to oppress its citizens, and it must sell al-Assad’s government short—in spite of recent amicability—to retain its legitimacy.

To be sure, Turkish-Syrian relations have had their sharp ups and downs between then and now, but the conclusion is still the same. And Turkey may have finally vocalized that real trouble is brewing for the Syrian regime:

“This is our final word to the Syrian authorities: Our first expectation is that these operations stop immediately and unconditionally,” Mr. Davutoglu said at a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish capital. “If the operations do not end, there would be nothing more to discuss about steps that would be taken,” he said, without saying what that action might include.

And, given the extensive border between the two countries, Erdoğan has claimed that the happenings in Syria are—in fact—”internal affairs” for Turkey. Even more audacious:

“We have to listen to the voices from over there, we hear them, and of course we will act accordingly,” Mr Erdogan said.

But why the dilly-dallying so far? Because—Turkey has been strategically waiting for Aleppo and, ideally, Damascus, to join the unrest. Without Aleppo and/or Damascus supporting a Turkish invasion, the legitimacy of intervention is questionable. It would be an enormous risk for Turkey to intervene on a stalwart Assad with a peaceful Aleppo and Damascus, and with an indecisive (and apparently confused) international community as backup. And what about Turkey’s military capacity since the resignation of the generals? The word “demoralization” has been thrown around frequently since then. Can Turkey even project power with its military at the moment?

If Turkey chooses not to invade, though, Ankara’s bold words and professed morals will ring false in the ears of the world. Damascus will grin. Riyadh will frown. The West will continue its finger-wagging. Erdoğan knows this more than anyone.

So don’t be surprised if Turkey begins addressing its “internal affairs” in the near future.

Written by M. James

August 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Waiting for Aleppo

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A recent AJE feature captures an important aspect of the crisis in Syria: As more of the Sunni working and merchant class find themselves in dire financial straits due to the unrest, the uprising in Syria will gain real momentum.

The question remains about whether al-Assad’s open-ended “national dialogue” will placate an increasingly irritated Syria.

The Syrian president has been very timely in his concessions so far, but mere concessions will not be enough when middle-Syria is unhappy with the economy (and sees nothing to gain by keeping the Ba’ath Party in power).

Written by M. James

June 27, 2011 at 9:19 am