Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Something to really celebrate

Posted by Charles II on December 18, 2012

Richard Engel, NBC correspondent, and his crew were freed. Brian Stelter and Sebnem Arsu, NYT:

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, and three of his crew members were freed on Monday after five days in captivity in Syria, the news organization said on Tuesday.

The identities of the kidnappers and their motives were unknown. But an article on the NBC News Web site quotes Mr. Engel as saying their captors “were talking openly about their loyalty to the government” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

About 15 men, Mr. Engel said on the “Today” show, “just literally jumped out of the trees and bushes” and “dragged us out of the car.” The kidnappers killed one of the rebels whom the crew had been traveling with, he said. [They subjected Engel and his crew to mock executions]

the crew members were freed when the captors “ran into a checkpoint manned by members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, a Syrian rebel group,” NBC’s Web site reported. “There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued. Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped.”

Engel is one of the last real correspondents on TV. As this incident shows, he goes in at great personal risk to places no one wants to go. He’s modest and well-informed. He may be the only person on network TV that I actually enjoy listening to and trust.

So, thanks, God, for getting him out safely.

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7 Responses to “Something to really celebrate”

  1. Indeed.

  2. Stormcrow said

    Pulling something like this is just about THE MOST stupidly self-destructive thing Bashir Assad’s regime could possibly do right now.

    Most of the Obama administration are hostile neutrals at best. And that was weeks ago.

    If he wanted us to start openly shipping arms to the insurgents, I really don’t see any better way he could achieve that, than this.

    WTF is wrong with him; is he trying to get himself deposed and shot???

    • Charles II said

      I doubt Assad’s really in control anymore, Stormcrow. He never had the control of the apparatus that his Dad did. At this point, they’re just trying to stay alive from day to day. I don’t doubt that memories of Gadhafy are fresh in his memory.

      • Phoenix Woman said

        Exactly. Though the more paranoid people will claim this was a rebel false-flag operation, even though the kidnappers killed a rebel who was escorting Engel and his crew.

      • Stormcrow said

        If Bashir Assad has lost control of his soldiery, then it’s all over, one way or another. And his best move would be to slip out of the country to a suitable refuge.

        Between 1949 and 1970, Syria hosted no less than 10 coups d’etat. Luttwak’s remarks from Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook, published in 1969:

        In the coup country par excellence, Syria, political leaders have in fact gone around the barracks “canvassing” for (armed) support, but the special conditions of Syrian political life are not likely to be reproduced elsewhere.

        If Syria is returning to this, then the country will be effectively ungovernable.

      • Charles II said

        Yes, I think the country is ungovernable, which is why it existed as a dictatorship. Libya has two major factions and Iraq three (with all sorts of tribal nuance to the story), so they can work (sort of) as federations. But Syria is this incredible snake pit, with Kurds, Alawites, Maronites, (etc.) and Sunnis of various inclinations, all with the tribal overlay. Add in Iranian and Israeli+US jousting over power in what both perceive as essential territory. The Russians, too. The place is like Afghanistan, but without mountains to separate the warring parties.

        I do think Assad miscalculated, losing his Russian support, and that at this point the west doesn’t think it has to give him a get out of jail free card. But we’ll see.

        We always do, whether we want to or not.

  3. Stormcrow said

    Yes, I think the country is ungovernable, which is why it existed as a dictatorship.

    Oh, sure, that’s almost a given.

    But Haffez al-Assad managed to rein in the Army. By, among other things, sending them to Lebanon to intervene, which kept them out of Syria and out of trouble. A trick which usually indicates a cunning ruler, and goes back millenia.

    And Syria hasn’t had any serious instability that Haffez al-Assad wasn’t able to quickly crush. This went on for 30 years. Haffez controlled his army; it didn’t act like a bunch of unmanageable feudal barons off on a pillage/rape/burn expedition.

    If that’s changed, the insurgents may be the least of Bashir’s problems.

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