Dec 22, 2014 | ASSAD
Assad the Builder: Ready, Steady, Bomb!
The Syrian Prime Minister, visiting Iran amidst his country's ongoing civil war, talked about the Syrian government's imminent "big victory" and its plans for commencing the reconstruction process. Presumably, that process involves demolishing a dozen or so cities, leveling the field so to literally speak, in order to rebuilt anew.
As any proficient builder will tell you, it's much easier to start from scratch than having to deal with existing structures of dubious aesthetics and poor engineering.
Take for example Syria's largest city, Aleppo. In an effort to evaluate the structural stability of the urban fabric and bring it up to building code, the Assad government came up with an innovative approach using indiscriminate use of barrel bombs. The Syrian army has been checking in this fashion structural stability since July 2012 and is still at it and, as the numerous crumbling buildings attest, poor construction is evidently widespread in Aleppo. The government's bombastic intervention is therefore a public service as it identifies those building that are in dire need of reinforcement and/or rebuilding and saves their inhabitants from their future possible collapse due to an earthquake, tsunami or asteroid hit. Furthermore, the barrel bomb method, although a bit unorthodox, is the most efficient way for urban rejuvenation and beats the old fashion, piecemeal approach of building by building demolition, and comes at the heels of the successful aerial bleaching campaign for clean laundry.
Also, didn't Haussmann in Paris under Napoléon III's renovation scheme had to tear down lots of presumably cute, "historic" Parisian blocks to make way for the grandeur that modern tourists are greeted with today? If heavy-handed demolition was good enough for Paris, it sure is for Aleppo. Did people whined about the hundreds of citizens that were unavoidably displaced back then? And even if they did, just take a stroll down Rue de Rivoli or admire the vistas on Avenue de l'Opera, wasn't it all worth it? In any case Assad definitely thinks so. He and wife Asma have done a lot of gift shopping there so they should know.
There has been some mean spirited criticism about the government's modernization of the some historical sites (the medieval souk, citadel and great mosque for example) that have required some minor destruction, but as the old Syrian saying goes, you can't make falafel without breaking a couple of cooks' heads. And that souk in particular was quite cramped and boringly retro so they did the city a favor. The rest of the monuments will be spruced up in no time and in much better colors once the government's swift victory is upon us.