We have been led to believe that the Syrian conflict was the result of the Assad government’s crackdown on an “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movement starting in late January 2011, resulting in factions within the protest movement taking up an armed struggle against President Bashar al-Assad. This reading of events has been challenged by senior figures even in the United States’ own political establishment.
Since March 2011 Syria has grown to become the definitive conflict of our generation. By the time details of this apparent extension of the Arab Spring reached our television sets in the West it had already become an impenetrable tangle of propaganda and counter-propaganda. It was quite clearly packaged for our consumption as a popular uprising.