The Syrian Armed Forces bring down a Turkish Airforce jet over waters that are disputed as international or Syrian. The internal violence in the Syrian state spills into the skies and waters of the Mediterranean in the classic internationalisation move of threatened regimes.
They keep power by postulating an external threat, a deadly enemy from without.
The Great Powers of the 20th Century, the USSR and the USA, are the role models for all other regimes in this regard. The Cold War is the bench-mark instance of this 'outside threat' ruse.
The tragedy for the citizens of Syria and Turkey is that this air-battle may be the prelude to a proxy-war between states acting on behalf of the remnants of the Great Powers of the 20th Century.
Who is supplying the jets and the armaments to Turkey and Syria? What businesses and economies are benefiting?
Meanwhile, within the borders of the state of Syria, massacres and killings continue. Citizens are killed. Citizens take up small arms in the face of grand military assaults. Ethnic and territorial undercurrents surface. Mechanisms citizens use to ride out these currents are, quite literally, blown to pieces. Violence separates people and gives energy to calls for revenge.
Slad agus sléacht a bheas in Uladh de bharr an linbh seo… éad gan chuimse de bharr a háilleachta… oidhe ar chlann uasal de bharr a huaibhreachta… agus creach ar Eamhain Mhacha féin… mí-ádh thú ar gach a fhéachann ort anois!
Slaughter and destruction will come to Ulster because of this child… unbridled jealousy because of her beauty… decimation of a noble family because of her haughtiness… and desolation on Eamhain Mhacha itself. Indeed, you are misfortune to all who gaze upon you.
Slad and sléacht are words in Irish that translate to English words destruction, havoc, chaos, massacre. Agus translates to English as and.
The word slad has the firmly resonant sound of high-explosive shells landing on buildings and bodies in Houla (34 degrees North, 36 degrees East).
The word sléacht emits the steely gut-wrenching sound of metal tearing through flesh in the nearby villages of Taldou and Kuflaha.
Both words – slad agus sléacht - speak of Syria, the beautiful child.
The ability of state forces and their paramilitary associates to deliver death and destruction is deeply engrained in the lived experience of populations all over the world. The notion that some people are lesser than others gives permission to the orgies of violence we see all too frequently.
Are we counting the dead bodies dumped on Mexican roadsides as the collateral damage of gang-warfare?
And as the regime represses, so it evokes the external threat.
See also an earlier blogpost:
So Syria has no oil then?; 7th August 2011
Deirdre agus Mic Uisnigh: book; Colmán Ó Raghallaigh; Cló Mhaigh Eo; 2008