In 2008, Americans lauded the great success of ‘The Surge’ - implementation of broad new counterinsurgency doctrine that “Won The Hearts and Minds” of Iraqis, particularly disaffected Sunnis strewn throughout Western Iraq. “Winning Hearts and Minds”, so we were told, hinged on the “Sunni Awakening”, where Americans would partner with disenfranchised Sunnis on shared goals - defeating jihadi insurgents and ensuring the inclusion of Sunnis in Iraq’s new Shia dominated democratic government. ...
Since early October, many of us have been mesmerized by scenes of the student-led “Occupy Central” or “Umbrella Movement” demonstrations in the government compound and throughout Hong Kong. Earlier this year, similar events occurred in Taipei in what became known as the Sunflower Movement.
In the past two and a half years, the uneven progress of armed rebellion against the Syrian regime has produced rebel infighting. Militant Sunni Muslim groups evolved new strategies to gain and control resources to keep the fighting going, and in doing so, also developed alternative visions and authority structures as individual fighters both in Syria and from outside sought to join whichever group was best able to absorb them.
“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.” Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)