Monday, August 08, 2011

The Syrian Bodycount Puzzle

"a crackdown that, by the count of some human rights groups, has killed more than 2,000 people. Hama, the victim of one of the bloodiest moments in modern Middle East history, is a national symbol of violent repression. The military crushed an Islamist revolt there in 1982, killing at least 10,000 people. The assault in Hama last week, in which more than 200 people were killed, inflamed sentiments across the country" 
             (recent news story)

Syria has been in revolt for months. News stories describe attacks by tanks and troops on nonviolent protesters. At least one story on the recent attack on Hama made it sound as though the city had been bombed out and destroyed. 

Checking Wikipedia, the population of Hama is 696,863. 200 people killed comes to fewer than one in 3000.

Which raises an obvious puzzle. The figures on bodycounts are coming from the opposition, which one would not expect to minimize them. Yet they seem surprisingly small, given the scale of the violence.

Which makes me wonder if, at this stage of things, a lot of what is happening is bluff—security forces killing a handful of demonstrators in order to shut down demonstrations, while refraining from the sort of large scale violence of which they are surely capable for fear of setting off a level of conflict with which they cannot adequately deal.


"Syrian troops stormed the port city of Latakia and sprayed it with gunfire on Saturday, killing at least two people" (Aug 13 news story)


Anonymous said...

>'What we are seeing is bluff'

Or security forces who've always ruled by terror and don't know any other way, trying to show restraint.

Under new orders they aren't competent to carry out? -really, it's hard to break up a crowd of angry persons without hurting them or getting hurt yourself-

Or, scared the new regime will remember?

Last Days of the Tsars.

Anonymous said...

Even a single child's tear is precious and sufficient for us to demand the resignation and indeed a criminal punishment of the guilty SOBs. Unless they are our SOBs in which case they can gut and sell for body parts as many brats as they feel needed.

neil craig said...

Or that our media are lying to us, bl;owing up a fairly minor bit of rioting into a massive campaign.

In the same way that NATO claimed that the Yugoslavs had already killed half a million Albanian men in Kosovo when they attacked - a figure probably over 100% of such adult males - it ultimately turned out that total deaths were about 2,100, mostly killed by the KLA or NATO.

If government want our agreement to kill people it helps to lie about them first.

"On July 15, I received news feeds from the AFP announcing a million protestors all over Syria, of which 500,000 in Hama alone.

In Hama however, they could not have been more than 10,000.

This ‘information’ was even more absurd due to the fact that the city of Hama counts only 370,000 inhabitants."