No one wants to admit this fact, but Bashar Assad has had a few months of good public relations. In recent years, the English trained optician turned “Butcher of Damascus” was most commonly mentioned in Western media in connection with indiscriminate bombing campaigns and chemical weapon deployment. Given such a track record, not many foresaw Assad becoming the last hope of the Syrian Kurds.
Since 2014-2015, the Syrian Civil War lacked a key element found in all of history’s Civil Wars: a conflict amongst countrymen. With the rise of ISIS and the Al Nusra front, foreign fighters – mostly jihadists – became the majority in the anti-government forces. In the aftermath of ISIS, now with Turkey attempting to butcher their way through Rojava, there is no one but Assad using military power to save the Syrian Kurds from genocide. Dramatically shifting foreign policies have a strange knack of busting narratives.