Syria: Special comment: Over the weekend, news video footage from Homs, the so-called center of the opposition uprising, raised questions about the actual effectiveness of the opposition. The videos showed Syrian police, firefighters and militia using fire hoses to disperse a major opposition rally in Homs. So who controls Homs? Apparently the government does, with the exception of a few photogenic neighborhoods.
A European news outlet published a city map that shows the neighborhoods of Homs based on sectarian residence patterns. The map shows that most of the videos of violent confrontations have been taken in two or three mostly Sunni neighborhoods in the south of the city.
Homs is a large city and most of it appears to experience little to no violence, based on the video footage and the map of neighborhoods. The vast majority of Sunni neighborhoods and the Christian and Alawite neighborhoods report no violence. Life goes on in most of Homs.
If the Homs firefighters and police retain the capability to use fire hoses against demonstrators, then the government remains in control in that city. That is a basic precept of internal instability analysis. Homs still has a functioning government that responds to orders from Damascus.
The point of this comment is that most US news reporting on the struggle in Syria appears aimed at grabbing headlines rather than at providing a balanced view of both sides of the struggle. Non-US news sources present a different view of the unrest. For example, it is difficult to maintain that the opposition dominates Homs, when the fire brigade is secure enough to turn hoses on an opposition rally there. US news analysts completely missed the significance of the fire brigade operations shown in their own videos..
The bottom line is that the opposition holds no ground that it does not physically occupy and then only when government forces are not present or chasing it. Homs does not appear to be under siege or under opposition control, based on German news reporting. Some neighborhoods are and that is worth further research. It also helps explain why the al Asad government exhibits no signs of panic or severe stress commensurate with the urgent statements by the UN, Arab League and US officials. More on this topic later.
Phi Beta Iota: The truth at any cost lowers all other costs. The US media is 65-95% owned by Wall Street, with the bulk of their revenues coming from advertising by corporations that profit from war and instability.