On just about every issue he ran on, candidate Trump was in opposition to Sen. Lindsey Graham. Including Russia. Now Graham, whose popularity as a presidential candidate in 2016 was around 0%, is advising President Trump.
Forty eight seconds in to his July 10 segment on Fox News’ The Story, Graham says, “Putin is not doing anything good in Syria.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 10, 2018
You lie, Lindsey.
The Economist is a superb news magazine—its reporters do old fashioned shoe-leather reporting, rather than rely solely on what the Anglo-American Deep State dishes. Which is how Lindsey gets his news.
More fundamentally, the Economist is liberal and vehemently anti-Trump. Under an ostensibly dim headline, the magazine relays some very promising news about the new Syria, what with the Alawites and their allies having consolidated power, once again.
Remember, “The country has been led by Alawites since 1966, but Sunnis held senior positions in government, the armed forces and business. Even today many Sunnis prefer Mr Assad’s secular rule to that of Islamist rebels.”
… the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.
Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities. Sunni civilians, once a large majority, followed. More than half of the country’s population of 22m has been displaced—6.5m inside Syria and over 6m abroad. Most are Sunnis. …
“We lived so well before,” says a Christian teacher in Homs. “But how can you live with a neighbour who overnight called you a kafir (infidel)?”
For the warring factions, this is a regional conflict . The local powers want “the Iranian-backed Shia militias” to go back whence they came. Russia, seemingly, is urging the same.
Mr Assad’s men captured the last rebel strongholds around Damascus in May. He now controls Syria’s spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south—what French colonisers once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders (see map). Lately the government has attacked them in the south-western province of Deraa.
Government departments are functioning. In areas that remained under Mr Assad’s control, electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year’s natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer. …
… Syrians are experienced construction workers. When Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990, they helped rebuild Beirut. But no such workforce is available today. In Damascus University’s civil-engineering department, two-thirds of the lecturers have fled. “The best were first to go,” says one who stayed behind. Students followed them. Those that remain have taken to speaking Araglish, a hotch-potch of Arabic and English, as many plan futures abroad.
Sunni states, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, should also give up on the John McCain-Lindsey Graham style Sunni regime change.
Early on, minorities lowered their profile to avoid being targeted. Women donned headscarves. Non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence. Alawite soldiers now flex arms tattooed with Imam Ali, whom they consider the first imam after the Prophet Muhammad (Sunnis see things differently). Christian women in Aleppo show their cleavage. “We would never ask about someone’s religion,” says an official in Damascus. “Sorry to say, we now do.”
The country’s chief mufti is a Sunni, but there are fewer Sunnis serving in top posts since the revolution. Last summer Mr Assad replaced the Sunni speaker of parliament with a Christian. In January he broke with tradition by appointing an Alawite, instead of a Sunni, as defence minister. …
… A decade ago Mr Assad toyed with infitah (liberalisation), only for Sunni extremists to build huge mosques from which to spout their hate-speech, say his advisers. He is loth to repeat the mistake.
Now, “Mr Assad sees no reason to make concessions.” But “UN mediators and his Russian allies,” whom Graham maligns, have been pushing for inclusive solutions.
Is this ideal? Of course not. But it’s better than the alternative promoted by the diabolical duo, McCain and Graham and the rest of the Anglo-American foreign-policy establishment: rule by fundamentalist rebels.
Russia has called on all “foreign forces to leave Syria,” including Iran, which has stationed “80,000 foreign Shia militiamen” in Syria.
Skirmishes between the [Iranian] militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths, according to researchers at King’s College in London. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones. Alawites, in particular, flinch at Shia evangelising. “We don’t pray, don’t fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,” says one.
All share a wish for the Iranians to depart, but Turkey, Israel and America would also do well to stay out of Syria, too.