Syria Video Analysis: Mis-Understanding the Insurgency

Six minutes reviewing the latest developments within the insurgency — including the formation of new blocs in the north and in the Damascus suburbs — and explaining how many in the media mis-understand this as “Islamist extremists” taking over the opposition:

1. The re-alignment of factions in the north is largely motivated by 1) disillusionment with the opposition political and military leadership outside Syria, amid the failure of the US to give significant assistance to the insurgency, and 2) the need to confront the influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham.

2. The development in the Damascus suburbs is “simply because insurgent factions are fighting a battle to the death against the forces of the Assad regime”.

3. “It’s simple to declare that the insurgency has been taken over by radical groups. It’s simple, but it’s wrong. These groups fight together not because they want to establish a caliphate, but because they see an increasingly desperate battle against Assad’s forces — and, indeed, the foreign fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq.”

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


    • Julie,

      Webster Tarpley is a very creative conspiracy theorist and I have never before come across the work of the “International Institute for Peace, Justice, and HumanRights”. The allegations in the report have already been discredited.


  1. Let us simply the situation into two narratives:

    1. The Syrian opposition is misunderstood, and it is being radicalised because of a lack of support.

    2. The Syrian opposition is divided, weak, and prone to external influence, and the war it is waging to overthrow the Assad regime is sinking Syria into a post-Ottoman hellhole, taking with it neighbouring states.

    For over two years, narrative one has had to fight incredibly hard to remain relevant, whereas narrative two has stood the test of time. The Syrian opposition is indeed divided, weak, and prone to external influence, and the entire region is sinking into a post-Ottoman hellhole. Turkey has been hit with terrorist attacks; the death toll from daily car bombings in Iraq is now comparable to the worst days of its civil war; and Lebanon and Jordan are collapsing under the weight of Syrian refugees.

    Are we really misunderstanding the situation?

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