Monday, March 05, 2012

Bashar's beastliness . . .

A NASTY SUMBITCH INDEED, who seems to have Vladimir Putin's enthusiastic support. Last week, Bashar managed to kill Marie Colvin, an intrepid journalist with a fearless drive for the truth. And as we know, journalism in places where bullets fly can be dangerous.

BUT FOREIGN POLICY seems to think this was not accidental, 'collateral damage', according to Robert Pelton's post, "Kill the Messenger, What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one -- not even the story -- gets out alive".

It seems that Marie Colvin was targeted intentionally. According to the FP article, the Russians started this technique in their gentle intrusion into Chechnya. Check out the whole sorry tale.

It was December 1999, and the Russian assault on Grozny was unfolding in all its gruesome detail. After the dissolution of so much of the former Soviet empire, Chechnya was one country that the newly minted prime minister, Vladimir Putin, refused to let go of. His boss, Boris Yeltsin, and the Russian army had been defeated and then humiliated in the media by Chechen forces in the first war. Five years later, Russia was back. And Putin's new strategy was unbending: silence, encircle, pulverize, and "cleanse." It was a combination of brutal tactics -- a Stalinist purge of fighting-age males plus Orwellian propaganda that fed Russians a narrative wherein Chechen freedom fighters were transformed into Islamist mercenaries and terrorists. More than 200,000 civilians were to die in this war, the echoes of which continue to this day.

This time, journalists were specifically targeted to prevent sympathetic or embarrassing reports from escaping the killing zone. As such, you can't find a lot of stories about the second Chechen war. One of the few and best accounts was written by Marie Colvin, who described her terrifying escape from Grozny for the Sunday Times. Last month, Colvin thought she could roll the dice and enter the besieged Syrian city of Homs to defy yet another brutal war of oppression. This time she lost.

It's impossible to know whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- a longtime ally of Russia -- studied the success of the last Chechen war before launching his own assault on the restive city of Homs. However, his Russian military advisors surely know the tactics well. The crackdown in Homs carries a grim echo of Grozny, both in its use of signals intelligence to track down and silence the regime's enemies and in its bloody determination to obliterate any opposition, including Western journalists.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The attack on Homs is also very reminiscent of Fallujah.

Why are very few people questioning who the insurgents were in Homs and who armed them?