The Manbij Experiment
October 4, 2012 3:31 PM   Subscribe

"What is currently happening in Manbij, once a sleepy provincial city in northern Syria, is the first future-oriented experiment in the midst of horror. " In the Syrian city of Manbij, the first larger city to be liberated by rebel forces, residents have been left with the task of governing amidst Syrian forces' daily attempts to destroy schools, hospitals, access to clean water and other infrastructure using air strikes.
posted by lookoutbelow (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Given that it's likely Turkey will get involved in some way, I hope this experiment survives.
posted by tommasz at 3:54 PM on October 4, 2012

Linked page is the second out of two. Might want to fix that.
posted by Valued Customer at 3:54 PM on October 4, 2012

Okay, no, something odd must have happened 'cause I'm getting no reproducibility here. False call.

That edit button is so tempting right now.
posted by Valued Customer at 3:56 PM on October 4, 2012

"Since mid-August, the regime in Damascus has been trying to destroy the parts of the country it was unable to hold. The Syrian air force launches daily air strikes against Manbij and other towns in the north. The goal is not so much to attack the rebels as they continually change locations, but rather the targeted destruction of the infrastructure. The strikes are aimed, in particular, at drinking water pipelines, grain silos, hospitals, government buildings and schools."
posted by mulligan at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2012

Air strikes on hospitals? Classy.
posted by indubitable at 4:59 PM on October 4, 2012

I fear that this civil war is, or will turn out to be, a genocide. The regime has been extremely and calculatedly brutal and they are members of a minority ethnicity. There have been reports of the regime arming fellow members of that ethnicity and encouraging them to commit violence against their neighbors. It is already awful there, but it can easily get much, much worse. That's not even thinking about Turkey's involvement...
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:53 PM on October 4, 2012

I can't see a clear way of preventing the conflict from escalating. The situation inside Syria seems intractable, sides are being taken internationally, the whole thing is frightening.
posted by lookoutbelow at 6:07 PM on October 4, 2012

I can't see a clear way of preventing the conflict from escalating. The situation inside Syria seems intractable, sides are being taken internationally, the whole thing is frightening.

I think it is precisely because no one can see a way out of this escalating that international groups are taking sides. If Assad had managed to destroy the rebels quickly, it would have insured little outside notice. Which is itself an explanation for the brutality the regime has been demonstrating - they were hoping to repeat the Hama massacre, which ended a previous resistance campaign against the regime.

Now things have gone on long enough that they can no longer be ignored, and Turkey, among others, is getting worried/thinking about the possibilities of seeing the regime fall. Above all, they recognize that the conflict isn't just going to go away. I don't think we can expect European involvement like that in Libya, and certainly Obama is going to stay away from this until after the elections at least. But I think the weight is shifting against Assad, and he knows it.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:38 PM on October 4, 2012

The conflict will go on for at least a year or more is what people in Syria are saying. The rebels are not armed but have the guts to do anything - the regime is well armed but not too motivated to die. So the regime drop bombs from planes and artillery, and the rebels run around with AK47s, RPGs and die in large numbers.

It's a mistake to view this as a sectarian war, the regime has Sunnis in the military, a diverse group in fact make up the Syrian Army. The war is different things to different people. My impression is it started when Assad made moves to open the government to western style Democracy and freedom for a short period, discovered his political opposition was strong and could be a real threat, shut down the reforms but not before the people had a taste of what could be, which then started the protests. Assad way over-reacted (on the advice of his mother!) trying to replicate the Hama massacre (as AdamC said above) and torture and so on, which caused a violent uprising. Essentially, the whole thing was avoidable if Bashar al-Assad wasn't such a reactionary.
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Alawites turning against Assad? Some interesting mafia-style assassinations in Assad's home town among the Alawites, the center may not hold. Further supports the idea this is not so much a sectarian war but something else.
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 PM on October 4, 2012

I have lately been reading about the American Civil War in Missouri, which also involved modern weapons and modes of war interpolated into ethnic and familial economic rivalries. Commerce, school, and religious life proceeded. I suppose you can argue the cultural output 150 years later is promising, but I have to tell you, the deeper into the reading I go, the more I realize that individual families living in Missouri to this day remember which neighboring families rode through the farm in the middle of the night and killed Grandma.

Which is somewhat tangential, I guess. Maybe what I mean is that war really not very modern at all.
posted by mwhybark at 11:34 PM on October 4, 2012

It's not starting as a sectarian war, but the more you read about it the more evidence you will see of the al-Assad government attempting to stoke sectarian divisions in order to shore up support. His hope is that the minority sects in Syria, including the one to which he and his family belong, will support him to the death in fear of a massacre by the majority should his government fall. He's essentially trying to create a situation where the people view the choices as the al-Assad government or a Rwanda-like ethnic massacre.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2012

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