How do civil wars get started? And when they do, how the heck does a bunch of ragtag militias engaging on guerrilla warfare manage to threaten established governments with real armies?
You likely heard of the ongoing Syrian civil war in connection with the European refugee crysis. But, do you know what’s going on in Syria, and how it started? I didn’t.*
It was literally a group of ragtag army deserters, the Free Syrian Army, who put a challenge to the government. You can see them in this 2011 one minute video bombing some government vehicles.
I was aghast with how a ragtag group was able to successfully challenge an (apparently) well established government. In 2012 they let a reporter go around with them and interview their leaders and it paints an enlightening picture of what it actually was (this is a 20 min video documentary). Zero international support for the rebels (because Russian and China were cockblocking the US at the UN) and homebrew weapons and bombs. Their leader is a guy in a tent with a cellphone and prayers. They’re fighting a guerrilla war living in tunnels and with suicide bombers. And they successfully takeon the government, conquering a few cities. (Note that shortly after the Free Syrian Army disintegrated as a semi coherent group and gave room to the current clusterfuck, but I was interested in this initial development).
Is Assad is really that incompetent? He appears to have simultaneously created an extremely dissatisfied populace while leaving room for the impression that he could be successfully challenged. How else can you explain people deserting the army in significant numbers and joining the rebels?
See you Wednesday,
*I learned most of what I know over 3 or 4 hours this weekend. If you know better, or have a friend who does, please cajole them into coming to the meeting