The Kurdish flag is raised in Amouda in northeast Syria after the opposition took control of the town
Yesterday, after I finished writing about Syria, I turned on US National Public Radio, one of the best Western sources of news. There were two headlines --- the Assad military was shelling Damascus, and Russia and China had once again used their veto to block a United Nations Security Council resolution. Similar headlines were playing on CNN and the other network and local TV news channels.
I was struck at how these headlines had missed the boat. Assad's military was shelling Damascus because it had lost control of large swathes of the capital city - THAT was the headline. The UN story is a distraction for the same reason: it misses the big picture.
That big picture? It is now a near-certainty, whether we like it or not, that insurgency rather than diplomacy will end this conflict. The victories of the Free Syrian Army, and/or their defeats, will determine the course of this contest and how long it will take.
Today, there are headlines about Midan in Damascus and the border crossings falling to Assad forces. These accounts are still flawed. Yes, the Fres Syrian Army has withdrawn from the Bab al-Howa crossing on the Turkish frontier, and, yes, it has pulled back from Midan, but these are two locations that the insurgents never expected to hold. These were operations to unsettle the regime, not vital battles for territory
It's time for the media to sort this story. After 16+ months, too many outlets struggle to capture even the basic essence of what is happening on the ground. There is too much reliance on whatever comes from unverified sources, Syrian State media says, or meetings in the UN.
Still, as the conflict heats up further, amid the headlines there will be some great journalism. My hope is that it shapes the public discourse about what is really happening in the bloodiest uprising of what was once called the Arab Spring.