Tuesday 1 June 2021

Bashar al-Assad’s decade of destruction in Syria

Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has presided over a devastating civil war that has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Martin Chulov describes a man who came back from the brink of defeat to strengthen his grip on a country deeply scarred by war Podcast presented by Anushka Asthana with Martin Chulov Wed 2 Jun 2021 03.00 BST
Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father as president of Syria in 2000. He was just 34, had studied in London, and some hoped he would open up the autocratic country. Instead, following the Arab spring uprising he has cracked down harder than ever on the Syrian people. In the decade-long civil war that followed, more than 500,000 people are thought to have died. The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, Martin Chulov, tells Anushka Asthana that as Assad lost control of vast areas of Syria following the uprising, he was at maximum vulnerability. But the intervention of Iran and Russia proved decisive. Now, after a widely discredited election victory with 95% of the vote, Assad begins his fourth term as president of a country deeply scarred by war. 

An interesting and useful summary, in particular that it does not follow the US-led storyline that placed so much emphasis on ISIL (which is only mentioned marginally). Well worth a listen.  While they do, readers might like to recall the reaction of Peter Tompa and other US antiquities trade lobbyists to Chulov's reporting a few years back in the opening stages of these events. Yet the experienced reporter's  firsthand knowledge and measured assessment of the Syrian War still stand today, contrasting with the amateurishness and woeful lack of knowledge showcased by the lobbyists. Tompa and the ACCP owe him an apology.

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