Syria in turmoil as resistance turns to insurrection

Robert Fisk writes:

Syria’s revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad is turning into an armed insurrection, with previously peaceful demonstrators taking up arms to fight their own army and the “shabiha” – meaning “the ghosts”, in English – of Alawi militiamen who have been killing and torturing those resisting the regime’s rule.

Even more serious for Assad’s still-powerful supporters, there is growing evidence that individual Syrian soldiers are revolting against his forces. The whole edifice of Assad’s Alawi dictatorship is now in the gravest of danger.

In 1980, Assad’s father, Hafez, faced an armed uprising in the central city of Hama, which was put down by the Special Forces of Hafez’s brother Rifaat – who is currently living, for the benefit of war crimes investigators, in central London – at a cost of up to 20,000 lives. But the armed revolt today is now spreading across all of Syria, a far-mightier crisis and one infinitely more difficult to suppress. No wonder Syrian state television has been showing the funerals of up to 120 members of the security services from just one location, the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour.

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One thought on “Syria in turmoil as resistance turns to insurrection

  1. Chris Keeler

    Firstly, Syria’s conflict is certainly starting to look increasingly like a civil war, although I would be hesitant to assume that the recent (alleged) defections will continue in mass. In addition to the fear of reprisal for defecting, Assad has far more loyalty in the military than other leaders have. 70% of the soldiers and 80% of the officers are Alawite meaning that it is likely that Syria will not witness the mass (and high level) resignations that plagued Qaddafi in Libya.

    Moreover, defections will be suppressed by the fact that defecting soldiers, officers and politicians have no safe area of the country to escape to. In Libya, defectors had Benghazi; in Syria the government still has control of the country. (

    Secondly, the Alawite militias are an interesting example fo sectarianism in the conflict. With an generally unified opposition (regardless of tribe or sect), the conflict has been characterized mainly as government vs. opposition (not opposition vs Alawite, for example). The use of sectarian militias run the risk of not only pushing the country closer to civil war, but also increasingly the likelihood that there will be all out sectarian violence across the country. (

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