Nemesis

The name Enoch Powell is unlikely to strike a chord with most of those who are under sixty years old. Yet at the time I took my PhD in London (1969-71) he was all over, frequently appearing on TV (“the telly,” as people used to call it), radio, and the papers. Today it pleases me to write a few lines about him. My reasons for doing so will become clear by and by.

Enoch Powell was born at Stechford, a borough of the city of Birmingham, in 1912. The family was lower middle class; his father, Albert, was an elementary schoolteacher, his mother Ellen, a housewife. Their somewhat constrained economic circumstances did not prevent Enoch from receiving a first class education, first at home—it is said that by the age of three, he could already read fairly well—and later at various grammar schools. Typical of the age, the most important part of the curriculum was formed by the classics, especially ancient Greek (a thorough mastery of Latin was considered self-evident) in which Powell soon revealed himself as a real prodigy. Later, at Cambridge, he not only received the highest possible, and extremely rare, grades but added German, modern Greek, Portuguese, Welsh, Urdu, and Russian.

In 1937 Powell, having completed his studies, went to Australia where, employed at the University of Sydney, he became the youngest professor in the entire Commonwealth. From there he sent letters to his parents expressing his disgust at Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “terrible exhibition of dishonor, weakness and gullibility” in his attempts to appease Hitler. “The depths of infamy,” he added, “to which our accurst ‘love of peace’ can lower us are unfathomable.”

Returning to England as soon as World War II broke out, Powell joined the army which appreciated his linguistic skills and put him into its intelligence service. By the time he got out in 1945 he was a brigadier general, the youngest in the entire service. Entering politics, he was elected to Parliament as a conservative member, making several speeches against Constitutional changes which, the way he saw it, were slowly but surely leading to the breakup of the British Commonwealth and of Britain itself. He wore his immense learning lightly; his measured, eloquent and, above all, extremely clear delivery—I remember watching him on TV—soon turned him into a star performer. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s he occupied a variety of senior positions, reaching the peak of his career in 1962 when he was appointed Secretary of Health under Harold Macmillan. This post he occupied until 1964 when Labor under Harold Wilson won the elections, pushing the Conservatives into the opposition. In 1965 the Conservative leader Edward Heath appointed him shadow Secretary of State for Defense.

It was during his time in the opposition that Powell first started drawing national attention by pointing out the danger of unrestricted immigration from Commonwealth countries. Especially Kenya which, over the previous few decades, had become home to many Indians and Pakistanis. Discriminated against and oppressed by the country’s new African rules, the people in question sought refuge in Britain. At the time I was living in Kilburn, a relatively poor neighborhood in northwestern London where I often encountered them. On one hand there were the Indians who set up small neighborhood shops and, by working themselves and their families very hard indeed, started their way up the social ladder. Contrasting with them were bands of young Moslems who, the papers said, were sometimes subject to what was popularly known as Paki-bashing.

It was a year or so before my arrival, on 20 April 1968, that Powell gave the speech for which he will forever be remembered:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’ [referring to the Sybil in Virgil’s Aeneid]. That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the 20th century. Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now.

The reaction, both in Parliament and in the media, can be imagined. The day after he held the speech Heath, as leader of the opposition, took Powell’s post as shadow minister of defense away from him. The same Heath, however, later admitted, in private, that Powell might have been “prescient.” He remained a member of Parliament until 1987, but was never again offered a cabinet post. From then to the present, in spite of warnings more numerous than the stars in the sky, no British government has dared taking the “resolute and urgent action” required. Instead, it contented itself by inventing reasons why such action was not required.

And now, feeling abandoned to their fate, some of Britain’s people are beginning to take matters into their own hands.

At War for Aleppo

For those of you who have forgotten, Syria’s civil war, which broke out in May 2011, reached Aleppo in July 2012. That was when the rebels, comprising a loose coalition of militias (at last count there were several dozens of them, some religious, others secular) entered Syria’s largest the city, estimated population three million, from the northeast. This caused it to be divided into two: an eastern part under rebel control and a western one held by government troops. That is how things remain down to the present, albeit that the militias have lost some ground and the government has gained some.

In the autumn of 2015 Russia, which up until then had been providing the Syrian Army with weapons and logistic support, joined in the fighting. Since then its combat aircraft and cruise missiles, including some of the world’s most sophisticated, have been hitting Aleppo (and other targets, but those do not concern us here) almost non-stop. In doing so they were joined by Syrian helicopters dropping their notorious barrel bombs. The total number of strikes of both kinds has been in the many hundreds, perhaps in the thousands.

helicopter-carrying-barrel-bombsThroughout the period in question, and indeed right from the beginning of the conflict, the rebels on their part did not possess a single weapon or weapon system capable of contesting their enemies’ near total command of the air. Even their anti-aircraft defenses, the kind that back in Afghanistan during the 1980s were said to have played a critical role in forcing the Soviets to concede defeat, were practically non-existent. Or else surely Assad would have had to withdraw his helicopters, which as weapons go are in many ways exceptionally vulnerable, months it not years ago. Just look at the above image!

Not only were the rebels almost totally exposed to air attack, but at no time during the five-plus years that the conflict has lasted were they united under a single command capable of formulating a coherent strategy and carrying it out. Indeed one reason why the government has been able to survive at all is because, in addition to periodically butchering each other, they also had ISIS, coming at them from across the Iraqi border, to cope with. Not to mention Syria’s Kurds many of whom saw the war as an opportunity to rid the provinces in which they live from Damascus’ rule and set up their own militias. Facing the government forces and their Russian allies, basically all the rebels in Aleppo can do is take cover and hold out.

Whenever Western armed forces lose a war in the “developing” world, as they have regularly done for the last six decades or so, there is no lack of excuses and explanations. Here I want to focus on the kind of excuse that attributes the defeats to “Western values,” or “humanitarianism,” or “democracy,” or the “media.” Briefly the factors that allegedly made the troops fight “with one (or two) hands tied behind their back” and prevented them from “kicking ass.” See the American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Vietnam. And see so many others, specifically including the Israeli ones in Lebanon in 1982 and, to a lesser extent in 2006, as to make one lose count.

Yet none of these factors apply in Syria. Neither President Assad nor his patron Putin are Western, humanitarian, or democratic. Neither allows the media to operate freely in their respective countries so as to influence public opinion against the war, let alone interfere with military operations. Neither gives a hoot about the death and destruction their forces are inflicting on civilians; which is one reason why the latest estimates speak of half a million dead, more or less.

So why are Putin and Assad unable to recapture Aleppo, let alone the rest of the country, and how were the militias able to hold on? To use the terminology I first developed in The Transformation of War (1991), the war in Syria is a classical “nontrinitarian” one. That means that, on one side (the rebels) “government,” armed forces are not separate but thoroughly mixed so that distinguishing between them is often all but impossible. In this respect it resembles plenty of others. One characteristic that all these wars, without a single exception, had in common was that the “forces of order,” or “counterinsurgents,” or whatever they were called, had control of the air. Albeit that it was not always as absolute as it seems to be in Syria. Yet in not one of these wars did airpower on its own decide the issue, and in many cases it was unable to prevent dire defeat.

Bombing defenseless civilians in Aleppo is easy. But hitting the fighters who conceal themselves among them is very hard. To repeat, the Russian Air Force in Syria is using some of its most advanced weapons, specifically including the latest “precision-guided” munitions in its arsenal. Yet in the end those weapons too are unable to distinguish between civilians and the combatants with whom they share the same neighborhoods, the same streets, and often, the same buildings. That explains why, by some estimates, out of every hundred people killed by Russian and Syrian government forces in Aleppo only one is a militiaman.

Nor will even more bombing necessarily do the trick. As experience from Stalingrad, Monte Casino, and many other places proves, cities and buildings provide those who know how to fight in them with the best cover imaginable. Should they, the cities and the buildings, be thoroughly destroyed, then the only result will be to make them provide better cover still.

And when will America’s campaign in Afghanistan, started fourteen years ago and now conducted almost exclusively from the air against an enemy who is all but defenseless in that medium, finally end in victory?

Guest Article: Eritrea’s Journey From Soldier State To Pauper State

by Miguel Miranda*

A glaring problem of our insulated consumer-driven society—the kind found wherever a solid middle class has taken hold—is it leaves people aloof and rather ignorant of how modern states are built.

Indeed, they need to be built. Whether erected from the ruins of war or assembled from disparate territories and then organized along lines that benefit its rulers.

Simply put, the rise of states and their armies are simultaneous phenomena essential to civilization as we know it. This led to the modern state that brought industrialized warfare to its peak. Today’s anxious global peace, where no world wars are taking place but so-called “low intensity conflicts” are common, is an achievement of hegemonic modern states.

Warfare as the ultimate tool for creating a state is practiced universally. This bloody effort applies to the United States of America, the whole of Latin America, my own country (the Philippines in 1897 and 1946), certainly to Israel, the up-and-coming world power China, as well as much of the developing world from Bosnia to Bangladesh.

Let’s not forget Eritrea. Aside from its picturesque geography it’s the Horn of Africa’s leading miscreant prone to North Korean fits of belligerence.

In the 1890s Italy conquered Eritrea and fashioned it into a colonial jewel along the Red Sea. Its hardy people, a patchwork of ethnicities, were organized into an administration and army.

The land called Eritrea was never supposed to be its own country, independent and sovereign. The United Nations made sure of this in 1952 when it ceded the territory to Ethiopia, one of Africa’s oldest insular countries with a long imperial tradition.

From the very beginning Ethiopia’s conduct along its northern frontier was fraught with oppression much worse than the Italians, who at least gave the Eritreans a composite national identity.

First under the aging Haile Selassie and then the socialist Derg the Eritreans were forced to abandon their local languages and customs. Open rebellion erupted soon after.

The long struggle to emancipate Eritrea was a strange one. It was completely out of touch with the Cold War and had few proxies, if none at all. Remarkably, the only evidence that the Eritreans received outside support was when the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson visited Eritrean Marxists in 1977 for paramilitary training. He was a young man then and soon left because of health issues.

After four decades of classic guerilla warfare against a ruthless adversary Eritrean forces seized Asmara and made it their capital when independence was declared on April 27, 1993. As for Ethiopia…it collapsed into civil war and remained a one-party third world basket case until Chinese foreign investment triggered its ongoing economic boom.

It was at that exact moment of triumph in 1993, however, that things began to unravel for the Eritreans. The former guerilla leader Isaias Afewerki, now a conquering warlord, assumed the role of dictator. His administration was the left-leaning People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which began as a coalition of rebel groups in the bad old independence war days.

Given the benefit of hindsight, the nation building the PFDJ undertook in the 1990s was idiotic. Eritrea is a coastal nation at the mouth of the Red Sea that’s also a major international shipping route. It has large and wealthy commodity-rich neighbors such as Sudan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Instead of opening to the world, Eritrea hunkered down and settled on a command economy focused on ambiguous national “self-reliance” at a time when this approach was a recipe for disaster.

Following a bloody war against Ethiopia, which lasted from 1999 to 2000 and which killed 100,000 on both sides, Eritrea kept its armed forces fully mobilized. Worse still, the iron hand of authoritarianism blighted its citizens. How the Eritrean state actually functioned from this point onward is difficult to explain. However, with a growing population (now several million strong) and no significant industries or agricultural sector it began to languish.

Here’s the CIA World Factbook putting it nicely: “…Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of resources and chronic drought, which have been exacerbated by restrictive economic policies.”

The Afewerki regime and its paranoia maintained Africa’s second-largest armed forces, allegedly 250,000-strong, equipped with leftover Eastern Bloc armaments, as well as a domestic security apparatus. What for? By 2014 the UN reported that 4,000 Eritreans were fleeing the country each month for Europe and the Middle East.

At a time when globalization is allowing vast streams of capital to reach the developing world, the so-called “emerging markets,” Eritrea has missed the boat. The only semblance of a functional economy is a thriving black market and government-sponsored arms smuggling.

Instead of erecting attractive infrastructure (the Dubai approach) or creating business parks for outsourced factories (the Vietnam approach) Eritrea is feuding with its immediate neighbors Ethiopia (the arch-enemy), Djibouti, and Somalia. The Afewerki regime doesn’t seem to have any plans for the long-term other than perpetuate itself—not surprising, really.

Not even NGOs are spared and these groups have been outlawed since 2006.

Poor and isolated, Eritrea is now allowing Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to run military facilities in exchange for unspecified aid. It’s also using the 18th century Hesse-Kassel model of exporting its soldiers—unconfirmed reports claim they’re being hired as mercenaries by the Saudis to fight in Yemen.

In 2015 the country was ravaged by drought.

Where did Eritrea go wrong?

Judging by the trajectories of failed states in the 20th century there are five outcomes for Eritrea in the near future.

  1. Regime change and democratic reformation.
  2. Whither away and collapse like East Germany.
  3. Become an aid-dependent hermit kingdom like North Korea that’s targeted for regime change.
  4. Break apart amid civil strife like Syria.
  5. Eventually be defeated and occupied by Ethiopia in a future war.

Students and scholars of the modern state have much to learn from the Eritrean experience. The simple lesson here is the military institution alone, while vital, doesn’t complete a country.

*Miguel Miranda is a writer based in the Philippines. He’s the founder of 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR). It’s a website that follows commerce in modern weapon systems and their impact on ongoing wars and crises across the Eurasian landmass.

Guest Article – Sliding Towards Civil War?

Europe: Sliding Towards Civil War?

by Renzo Verwer*

Day by day, thousands of asylum-seekers from Africa and the Middle East are entering the EU in search of their Promised Land. Germany alone expects 750,000 in 2015. Over the first half of 2015 the EU has admitted 400,000. This foreshadows a great increase over the figure for the whole of 2014, which stood at 562,265. To be sure, not all these people will be allowed to stay. Far from it. But many will remain, legally or not.

fighting-chimpanzee-bonobo-pan-paniscus-democratic-republic-congo-africa-36707241As any child can understand, this vast inflow, both legal and illegal, will necessarily have consequences for European society. Yet quite a few European leaders claim that nothing will change. Or even that immigration will have a positive effect on the society in question; for instance, by providing industry with labor. Not so. First, the fact is that each immigrant costs the country in which he or she chooses to settle tens of thousands of Euro a year. Second, their arrival often means that religious and ethnic tensions start being imported. Having seen how these things developed in an Amsterdam flat shared by Ethiopians and Eritreans, I can bear personal witness to this problem. Not nice; not at all.

Take a look at the following piece of news, originating in a mall Dutch village blessed by a center for immigrants in search of refugee status (http://www.nrcreader.nl/artikel/9622/in-oranje-ben-je-voor-of-tegen-de-asielzoekers: in Dutch).

A fascinating quote: “Feije handles the money. Angela [Feije’s wife] has stopped doing so. ‘As a woman, a group of Arab inhabitants did not accept me. They did not want to give me money.’

‘That is not how we would like to run our shop,’ says Feije. “This is the Netherlands.’ ‘But here is no point in trying to resist,’ says Angela. ‘We have switched roles. Now it is I who do the administrative work, order merchandise, and look for suppliers. Soon we shall start selling toys too.’ They must change, so as to make a living.”

Is this kind of discrimination legal in the Netherlands? In Europe? If not, where is the police? The United Nations, which is always busily fighting Islamophobia, does not say a word. Nor does anybody else. Feije and Angela have accepted the new situation. When I raise the question among anti-discrimination groups on Facebook, or among self-styled opponents of discrimination, many of them—even women—answer by saying: “Yes, the Christian Church did not believe in women’s equality either.” Discrimination used to be prevalent in the past. Ergo it is OK now.

European customs have already started changing. For the better? What do you say?

Or take a look at the following pieces of news:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/16/europe/italy-migrants-christians-thrown-overboard/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3229134/Syrian-ISIS-suspect-sleeping-rough-Calais-refugee-camps-hope-sneaking-UK-wage-terror.html

Life in the refugee camp “jungle” near Calais is hell. Muslims who convert do so at the risk of their lives. Muslims look down on blacks. Those responsible for running the camp are considering separating people of both sexes as well as those belonging to different religions. In other words, we are importing apartheid and social regression. Europe’s key values, such as women’s emancipation and religious freedom, are being thrown overboard.

Conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims (in which the Muslims are often the aggressors) have become part of daily reality. People who oppose immigration and the emergent multicultural society are often called xenophobes and/or racists. The Dutch liberal MP, Alexander Pechold, whose party came second in the polls, has said of them: “What can one do? Some people just cannot take a little fresh air.” The comment is both depreciating and coarse. To believe him and his fellow liberals, the terrifying monster is not IS. No; it is the media and the “extreme right.”

As to officialdom, its “strategy” is to deny reality. In every clash it is the unbelievers who must retreat, the Muslims who win. And the more Muslims enter the Continent, the more true this becomes.

I often think we have already missed the boat. Civil war in Europe cannot be ruled out—even though most of us feel things will not reach that point anytime soon. My own Dutch countrymen are naïve beyond belief. Over a decade after the murder, at the hands of a muslim fanatic, of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and politician Pim Fortuyn by an activist, both politicians and ordinary citizens are still astonished by the fact that “here in the Netherlands, such things can happen!”

Tensions between Kurds and Turks, Jews and Muslims, are growing. Many of our people reject our incompetent governments or even despise them. Social life is becoming more and more troubled. As history teaches us, these are just the factors that lead to civil war. In our great cities religious fanaticism and ethnic conflicts are becoming part of daily life. You can see it happening in the suburbs of Paris. And in those of Amsterdam where Muslims are demanding segregated swimming lessons and Jewish schools are being protected by the police.

No, disturbances will not break out in all places at once. Certain parts of the country will surely be spared, more or less. But I think that, 10-25 years from now, the pot will start boiling. Civil war will force people to choose sides… to look away… to fight… to resist… and become friends with farmers, of course.

Civil War is something we in the Netherlands can hardly imagine. Think of armed ethnic and/or religious gangs fighting each other in the streets. Of difficulties with the supply and distribution of goods. Of states within states. Of no-go areas and police forces which refuse to enter certain neighborhoods. Of bands of street fighters robbing, beating up, and killing people just as they please. In particular, being Jewish will not be fun.

And terrible things, things we do not even dare think about, will happen. Those who collaborate with the stronger side will survive. My advice to you good Europeans: accept discrimination against women and start hating Jews. And agree that your Western tradition is in urgent need of modification. Be nice to Muslims, and everything will turn out OK.

It is high time we started thinking whom it is that we admit. Not all refugees are “miserable.” They include a great many assholes as well as people who do not belong here at all.

Or else the day will come when Europe as we know it is gone.

* Renzo Verwer (Woerden, the Netherlands, 1972) is an author and a dealer in antiquities. He has published books about love, work, and the chess master Bobby Fischer. His most recent one (in Dutch) is titled Freedom of Thought for Beginners. His website is www.artikelzeven.nu

For Whom the Bells Toll

bashar-al-assadFor Bashir Assad, the bells have been tolling. If one believes the media, he and the regime he represents are on their last legs. Whether or not that is true is not at issue here—similar predictions have been heard ever since civil war broke out in Syria four years ago. What I do want to do is take a look at the origins of the war, the way it has been going, and what the future may look like in case the predictions come true.

The decisive fact about the Assad—meaning, in Arabic, “Lion”—family is that they are Alawites. The Alawites are a section within the Sunni tradition. They do not, however, form part of the mainstream. Some Islamic scholars do not even regard them as Muslims; claiming that they are basically pagans who worship the moon and the stars. The community is scattered among Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. It is, however, only in Syria that they form a significant minority, counting perhaps one seventh of the population. That explains why Bashir’s paternal grandfather, Ali Suleiman al Assad (1875-1963), supported French colonial rule. He and his fellow Alawites knew well enough how majority Muslims deal with minority ones.

Suleiman’s son Hafez made his career as an air force officer. In 1963 he took part in a coup that brought the Ba’ath, a party that professed a curious mixture of secularism, nationalism, and socialism, to power. In 1966 he co-authored another coup, this time one that took place inside the Ba’ath leadership; in 1970, following a third coup, he assumed power as a military dictator. He did not, however, do much to change the nature of the regime. The latter remained what it had been. An amalgam of secularism, nationalism, “Arab” socialism; and of course the kind of brutal police state which seems to be more or less the only kind most Arabs understand and can live under.

Assad Père governed Syria with an iron fist. In 1973 he and Egypt’s Sadat launched a massive war against Israel; the way he and most Arabs understood the outcome, it was a major success. To be sure, it did not return the Golan Heights to Syria. But it did increase Assad’s popularity and helped consolidate his rule. When civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1976 he played a major role in the conflict. Supporting now this militia, now that, at one point he made himself the de facto ruler of the country. So much so, in fact, that not even a major Israeli invasion of Lebanon succeeded in dislodging him for very long.

Assad’s greatest challenge came in early 1982. It took the form of a Sunni—Sunnis form just under 90 percent of Syria’s population—uprising against his Alawite, secular rule. So bad was it that, for several months, it looked as if he the regime was about to disintegrate. In response Assad had his troops, commanded by his own brother Rif’at, surround the city of Hama where the head of the snake was located. Opening fire, Rif’at turned much of it into a sea of ruins. Later reporters asked Rif’at whether he had really killed 25,000 men, women and children. Looking them straight in the face, he answered that he had probably killed more.

From that time on Assad no longer faced any serious opponents inside Syria. Though his troops withdrew from Lebanon in 1990, he remained a major player in the complicated ethnic politics of that country. The same applied to his son Basher who took over in the year 2000. Both Hafez and Basher tried to negotiate with Israel in an attempt to reach a deal that would return the Golan Heights. To no avail. Both Hafez and Bashir supported Hezbollah in Lebanon, causing Israel endless trouble along its northern border. Both were themselves supported by faraway Iran which provided arms as well as training. However, being concerned above all with the stability of their regime, neither launched a major war against anybody. To that extent they were a stabilizing factor in the Middle East.

In April 2011 civil war broke out. As in 1982, the perpetrators were mainly Sunni Moslems, combined with a sprinkling of “liberals.” Bashir used his army to respond in kind. However, unlike his father he was unable to quell the rebellion, causing it to go on and on. To-date, the death-toll is estimated to approach a quarter million people. Millions of others have fled, mainly into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. There is nothing very special about any of this. To the contrary: in the absence of democracy violence, great or small is simply the way Arabs normally use to settle their political differences.

What is remarkable about the conflict is not so much the butchery as the way the ropes are drawn around the rink. Assad Jr.’s only supporters are Iran, which does not want to lose its right-hand man on the Mediterranean, and Russia. He has, arrayed against him, practically the entire world—including most Arab countries, Israel and the West. Some of these actively assist his opponents; others pray for them day by day. They do so in spite of the fact that most of those opponents are associated with the kind of militant Islamic movement that, over the last four decades or so, has wrought havoc wherever and whenever it appeared; in Lebanon, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and, most recently, Yemen. Not to mention any number of other countries all over the world where its troops have engaged in terrorism, including the single largest terrorist act of all time. And notwithstanding the fact that, as experience shows, it is only strong Arab dictators who are able to hold Arab countries together and keep them from causing even more trouble for themselves, each other, and the rest of the world they already do.

Much the most important of the numerous militias that are trying to unseat Assad is IS, also known as Daesh. Truth to say, Arabs have never been exactly famous for the gentle way they fight their wars. Daesh, however, prides itself on being even worse than most. That is why, writing on this site, I have called it “The Monster.” Why any kind of regime, Arab, Muslim, Israeli, or Western should support Daesh and its fellow Sunni militias is a riddle that does not have a solution. Unless, of course, that solution is simply called stupidity.

To repeat, Assad is not a nice guy. He and his Alawite cronies have plenty of blood on their hands and are going to have lots more. Nevertheless, his ties to Hezbollah and Iran notwithstanding, on the whole he and his regime have been stabilizing factors in the Middle East. Should Assad fall, then the consequences may well be unimaginable. The first to suffer will be Syria’s Alawites or, at any rate, those of them who have not yet fled. Having sustained the regime for so long, they are going to face genocide on a scale that may make that committed by the Turks on the Armenians a century ago blanche. The same applies to other minorities such as the Druze and the Shiites. But Daesh does not want to rule just Syria. It wants Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Yemen as well. Whether or not it succeeds, in the short and medium run that means destabilization, terrorism, guerrilla, and civil war. In Iraq and Yemen, all this has already happened. Do we really want the same to happen in other countries too?

In the face of all this, it is high time for countries, leaders, and people to reconsider and stop ringing the bells for Assad’s funeral. Rather than trying to hasten his fall, they should finally agree to take for what he is: namely, the devil we know.

Or else.