What began in January escalated to an uprising in March. Ever since, it's been violent, disruptive and widespread, killing hundreds, and injuring many more.
The stakes are high. The entire region is affected. It's very similar to what began in Libya, pitting imperial powers against ruling governments for destabilization and control.
In Libya, it's by war for regime change, colonization and plunder. In Syria, it's to establish another client state, no matter who heads it. More on that below.
On August 3, Joshua Landis' Syria Comment site (joshualandis.com) headlined, "The Armed Gangs Controversy," saying:
Some analysts say "Syrian soldiers are killing fellow soldiers (for disobeying orders), not opposition elements." In fact, nothing proves it. "Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements (are) shooting security personnel."
In April in Banyas, the controversy first surfaced when nine soldiers were killed outside the city. Western media reports about fellow soldiers shooting them were false. Col. Uday Ahmad, brother-in-law of one of the dead, there at the time, said:
"(T)wo military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men," hiding on the ground and on rooftops. "They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine. The incident had nothing to do with soldiers refusing orders."
Other shooting reports were similar, involving armed militants, non-Syrian insurgents, responsible for much killing, Western media falsely blaming Syria's military and police. At the same time, most opposition forces are nonviolent, caught between hostile sides.
In Hama, for example, independent video footage contradicts major media reports. It shows opposition elements throwing bodies of soldiers into the Asi River, north of the city.
In fact, a CNN Arwa Damon/Nada Husseini August 2 report (a notable major media exception, perhaps airing only on CNN International) said:
"One prominent anti-government activist (unnamed for reasons of safety) told CNN the state TV account was correct. The bodies are those of Syrian secret police killed by Syrian fighters from Iraq who have joined the anti-government fight," based on information gotten "from an extensive network of informants."
Violent insurgents aren't part of the protest movement. They're destabilizing interventionist forces from outside, responsible for lots of killing.
Of course, violence begets more of it. Opposition elements incite it. Government forces respond, and nonviolent civilians are caught in the crossfire.
Landis believes the regime is resilient and will keep fighting, its military having "many advantage(s) over the fragmented opposition." It's "unlikely" to collapse or "fade away." Fighting will continue until one side or the other prevails. Had the Assad government "been willing to hand over power peacefully or establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already."
The longer fighting continues, the worse off Syrians will be. Many already face economic hardships, exacerbated by months of conflict, disrupting their lives, besides the human toll.
Landis thinks "(t)he potential for (continued) violence and lawlessness is large. Most worrying is the lack of leadership among opposition forces." More on that below.
Syrian authorities believe they're in control as long as Damascus and Aleppo, its two main cities, are mostly quiet.
Business elites in both cities are pro-regime, fearing much to lose if it's ousted. Sami Moubayed, Damascus-based Forward Magazine editor-in-chief in an August 2 Gulf News article, said:
"(B)oth cities can make or break any political movement - but rarely have they been part of anything that threatens stability and their commercial interests."
At the same time, the "silence of both cities....won't last for too long" for three reasons:
(1) "Unemployment:" If it rises too high, expect trouble. Many young people already are jobless. If many others join them for a protracted period, they'll be impoverished and angry.
(2) "Lack of community leaders:" Previous ones "pacif(ied)" angry Damascus residents. No one with similar influence is present in either city because "Baathists (haven't let) independent leaders....emerge."
(3) "Demographics:" Both cities are "melting pots," containing elements likely to demonstrate if things break down, because they don't take orders from business leaders.
On August 5, Landis headlined, "Should the US Hasten Assad's Downfall Despite Syria's Absence of Opposition Leaders?" saying:
Opposition forces are leaderless. As a result, "many US policy makers (are) scared. They don't want" the regime ousted until "some structure or leadership (can) take its place."
A power vacuum could produce chaos, an "Iraq (or Afghanistan) redux." Syrian businessmen won't support political change without a safe alternative. They're "not suicidal. They fear having their property expropriated twice in 50 years." Moreover, they've been "inextricably linked" to the regime for decades.
By "fast forward(ing)" change, Washington might "creat(e) a Frankenstein....caus(ing) more destruction and death, not less."
According to Syrian human rights activist/former judge/outspoken Assad regime critic, Haytham al-Maleh:
"If we want to own Syria after the revolution, we must win this struggle on our own," not by foreign intervention, especially imperial powers with their own agenda.
Destabilization and Possible Military Intervention
On the Progressive Radio News Hour, Mahdi Nazemroaya said outside elements are destabilizing Syria, much like how the Libyan uprising began. Where it leads bears close watching.
On Russia Today (RT.com), Michel Chossudovsky covered similar ground and more.
"This is not a peaceful protest movement," he said. "The model of insurrection (in Hama) is very similar to what happened in Daraa at the outset of these so-called protest movements."
Hama is a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. "This essentially is a confrontation between the government and Muslim Brotherhood." It doesn't reflect Syrian public opinion, "committed to a secular Muslim society."
In fact, "Assad has very strong popular support," as demonstrated by large pro-government rallies. Against them are Islamists "supported by outside forces. We know that's the case," including insurgents from Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.
Major media reports falsify what's happening, presenting one-sided biased accounts. AFP fabricated news about Hama, claiming 500,000 anti-government protesters turned out. "In fact, it wasn't 500,000. It was 10,000."
Moreover, when mass pro-Assad (or pro-Gaddafi) rallies occur, they're either downplayed or ignored.
In addition, major media reports suppress information about "armed gunmen shooting at police." Even the Israeli press confirmed it, while US and other Western accounts conceal what's going on - "a NATO/US military alliance committing crimes (against) humanity," targeting Syrian civilians as in Libya.
If Western forces intervene militarily, "then we are in for an extended war that goes from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border." As a result, a general war may result with potentially "devastating consequences."
On August 5, RIA Novosti headlined, "NATO plans campaign in Syria, tightens noose around Iran - Rogozin," saying:
"NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the (Assad regime) with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran, Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said."
By condemning ongoing violence in Syria, the Security Council suggested military intervention may follow. "It could be a logical conclusion of (Western) military and propaganda operations....against North Africa," Rogozin told Izvestia Friday, saying targeted regimes have opposing views to Western ones.
He also said imperial intervention in Syria and Yemen may precede attacking Iran.
"The noose around Iran is tightening," he believes. "Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region."
In fact, military plans for wars take months to prepare. America has longstanding ones, updated as needed, against a number of targeted nations, including Iran. It also has extensive naval and other forces in the region.
Plans are one thing, however, waging wars another. Many sit on shelves unimplemented, gathering dust. For years, reports circulated about potential imminent attacks on Iran, some accompanied by powerful US naval forces deployed to the region. Nonetheless, nothing happened.
Iran is militarily strong, able to retaliate forcefully against Israel and American forces in Iraq. As a result, attacking it could prove catastrophic, not least because how disruptive it would be to regional oil supplies and prices.
Blocking the Hormuz Straits alone would prevent around 15 - 17 millions of barrels from passing through daily on average. Attacking Western Gulf oil production, processing and transportation facilities would make things much worse, besides risking the possibility of general war.
Some analysts, in fact, believe doing so could become WW III if Russia and China intervene to protect their own interests.
For over three decades, US/Iranian relations have been strained, but no wars resulted. Perhaps it's because once something major begins, the potential consequences may be too great to risk.
In other words, the risk/reward ratio may show odds too precarious even for go-for-broke imperial powers to chance. What's ahead this time? In the fullness of time, we'll know, with an important wild card to keep in mind.
With America's economy cratering ahead of its 2012 presidential and congressional elections, a major false flag attack, like 9/11, may be used to incite fear, divert attention from economic woes, and enlist public support for more war besides others now ongoing.
It's the oldest trick in the book, successful virtually every time tried, the Obama administration's ace in the hole perhaps to be played strategically for assured reelection, it hopes.
As a result, anything ahead is possible to solidify power, even risked global war with potentially catastrophic consequences. Trends analyst Gerald Celente calls Washington politicians "inepts and incompetents."
With these types in charge, future possibilities are frightening, especially since the business of America is war and grand theft.
As a result, be wary, worried, and ready to react decisively - to the streets, if necessary, to fight the beast or be devoured by it. No other choice is possible.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.