World View: Syria Holiday Ceasefire Broken on First Day

World View: Syria Holiday Ceasefire Broken on First Day

This morning’s key headlines from

  • A so-called ‘truce’ in Syria lasts only nanoseconds
  • U.N. alarmed as ethnic violence grows in western Burma (Myanmar)

A so-called ‘truce’ in Syria lasts only nanoseconds

Lakhdar Brahimi, who recently replaced Kofi Annan as the UnitedNations envoy to Syria, entered the world of Alice in Wonderland lastweek by begging all sides in Syria to agree to a ceasefire for thethree-day Muslim holiday this weekend. Of course both sides saidthey’d agree, but there was barely any ceasefire at all, with eachside blaming the other for breaking the truce. There was fightingacross Syria, and there was a car bombing in Damascus that the Basharal-Assad regime blamed on the opposition. However, the al-Assadregime has lied repeatedly about almost everything, and has set offcar bombs themselves and blamed them on the opposition, so it’s quitepossible that Friday’s car bombing was perpetrated by the regime.Either way, the whole cease-fire thing was a joke. Like Kofi Annan’sfarcical six-point peace plan, the cease-fire just makes things worsein Syria by providing the al-Assad regime cover to continue their massacresof innocent women and children in their beds. Reuters

U.N. alarmed as ethnic violence grows in western Burma (Myanmar)

The United Nations is expressing alarm at the level of ethnic andreligious violence, which has substantially surged in the last fourdays, in Rakhine State in Western Burma. There was a burst of violencein June (see “11-Jun-12 World View — Burma (Myanmar) declares state of emergency over Buddhist/Muslim violence”), triggered by an alleged rape of aBuddhist Rakhine girl by Muslim Rohingyas. But this new wave ofviolence and massacres is much worse, leaving dozens killed, almost2000 homes destroyed, and thousands of refugees. Many Rohingyas haveput to sea in boats hoping to reach Bangladesh, but Bangladesh alreadyhas hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas in squalid refugee camps, andhas now closed its borders to fleeing Rohingya refugees. 

The Rohingya have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengalidialect. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnicgroup, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border, but rejected by bothcountries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as aunique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring tothem as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Burma is almost entirelya Buddhist state, including the Rakhine ethnic group that make up mostof the population of Rakhine state.

This presents a good opportunity to explain further the GenerationalDynamics concept of a crisis civil war. A number of people havequestioned why I keep saying that a crisis civil war in Syria isimpossible, and that the conflict going on there could fizzle at anytime. As I’ve explained many times, a non-crisis war comes from thepoliticians, rather than from the people. The Syrian conflict isbeing driven by president Bashar al-Assad, and if he were to step down,it’s quite possible that the conflict would fizzle immediately.

But clearly that’s not what we’re seeing in Rakhine State. There isno politician, to my knowledge, who is driving this conflict. IfBurma’s president Thein Sein were to step down, it would not affectone bit the fighting between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine.Another difference is that you don’t see the U.N. sending envoys likeKofi Annan or Lakhdar Brahimi to Burma to negotiate a cease-fire –who would they negotiate with?

Rohingya-Rakhine conflict is coming from the people, and it’s notgoing to fizzle out. In fact, it’s very close to exploding into afull-scale crisis civil war. BBC and AP

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