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July 18, 2013

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One thing about this conflict I don't understand is why the Assad government has the level of support it does from ordinary people, not only in Syria but elsewhere. The only answers I've seen so far have been "Sunnis vs Shiites" and "tribes". Is that the whole story, or is there more?

Elsewhere? That I don't know.

But in Syria it makes sense to me. There is a lot of small-c conservatism in the world. Once the violence started, I would expect a lot of passive support to become active, regardless of the fact that the regime started it.

It's beginning to look like a war that Assad can neither win nor lose.

A year ago, I wrote a post about how the division of Syria was economically and strategically impossible. I'm starting to reconsider that.


Doug M.

I think the internal support issue is fairly straightforward. The tribal & religious divisions plus the increasing nastiness in terms of atrocities means that government-supporting groups are viewing this as an existential conflict. So deprivation may not mean much unless you get to the point of mass starvation. How big is the need for food imports along the coast?

(+1 for "axis of unpleasantry")

Doug, I didn't take your argument as saying that de facto partition was impossible. Rather, I took it as arguing that the only it could happen would be via stalement and strategic exhaustion.

Which looks like what's happening.

If Assad can pacify Homs and marginalize the southern rebels (which depends on Jordanian policy) then Assadyria could hold out for a long time with no defined eastern border.

Thing to watch: intra-rebel fighting. The more, the better for Assad.

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