I guess everyone is well aware of the Arab Spring that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa, with the toppling of regimes in countries like Libya and Egypt. It seems to bear out the idea that people everywhere are more or less the same, regardless of their ethnic, cultural or religious differences, in the areas of political and personal freedom. They will put up with a crap-load of oppression and lack of freedom up to a point, but when that point is reached, they’ll snap, rise up and get rid of their oppressors. Usually, this happens in conjunction with an economic downturn. So it’s no surprise to see this with a world economy on the fritz, and it also explains American movements like the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. When people are able to exist with enough of the necessities of life, they are…well, maybe not happy, but content enough with their lives to let sleeping dogs lie. But when every day is a dog-eat-dog form of existence, the rulers better watch out. But enough with the canine cliches.
They got rid of Mubarak in Egypt, and Gaddafi in Libya, and now, since March of 2011, they’ve been trying to dislodge Assad in Syria, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Assad is hanging on, using a form of brutality against his subjects not often seen in modern times.
For instance, today he attempted to massacre a whole town, using gunships to mow down people fleeing on motorcycles, targeting the only two doctors in town to ensure a deprivation of medical care, and literally decimating the population. The numbers dead from this one attack are horrendous to contemplate, but at the moment will probably well exceed 200. And this is not the first time the forces of Assad have been involved in mass atrocities against his own people, in an attempt to quell what is turning into a civil war, between two factions of Islam, the Sunnis and the Alawites. Assad is from the minority Alawite, so demographics are not in his favor. Loyal troops are reportedly deserting en masse. Things look like they will get worse before they get better.
We seem to be doing a lot of hand-waving in the international community. The UN has been particularly ineffective, and the rest of the First World seems reluctant to get involved. Perhaps if they had a lot of oil there, we might become a little more interested? It’s one thing for the armies of Gaddafi and Mubarak to fight insurgents with guns, who are trying to overthrow their regimes, it’s another to send mechanized weaponry against unarmed civilian populations, for the sole purpose of creating terror. That alone makes Assad no better than Osama bin Laden, and you remember the extent of military power expended to end his existence?
I can’t imagine the world allowing this to continue.