Sunday, January 29, 2012

Syrian watershed

The situation in Syria is rapidly approaching a watershed. First, this weekend the Arab League called off its attempt to mediate between the Assad regime and the rebels, while their monitors were there demonstrators continued to be killed and the Assad regime controlled their movements. Second, several cities in Syria are coming under rebel control, even though they may not be permanently held, the regime no longer has enough troops to hold each and every city, they have to rotate them and their numbers are gradually decreasing, while the number of deserters in the Free Syrian Army is increasing. Third, the Arab League has asked the UN to take action in Syria just as they did for Libya and even though a Security Council resolution is still being blocked by Russia and China, their opposition is now being seen as a last ditch effort. Fourth, as an indication of the developing situation Khaled Mashaal, the Head of Hamas, has left Damascus permanently and has moved to Qatar, and even though the HQ of Hamas is still officially in Damascus most of the staff have left. It is a well known fact that rats leave a sinking ship.

Syria is the main ally of Iran and the biggest success of the exportation of the Iranian revolution. It has provided Iran with ready access to transport arms and materiel to Lebanon where there is a population of sympathetic Shia, and has enabled Iran to support Hizbollah and Hamas in Gaza. Now we already see Hamas splitting between those who want to continue with Iranian support and those who want to break ties with Iran, seen by many Sunni Muslims including those in Egypt as the Shia enemy. In Syria, even though Assad is far from being removed from office, the opposition grows in strength and there has been a meeting between Gulf Arab countries and Turkey to decide what to do regarding support for the Syrian opposition. They see the fall of the Assad regime as a defeat for Iran and this would also be a positive gift for Israel. In order to tar the opposition the regime announced today that opposition fighters have been caught carrying Israeli weapons. Although I am sure that this report is untrue, if Israel did give them weapons you can be sure the Hebrew markings would have been carefully removed.

So we are rapidly approaching a denouement in Syria. There will be much fighting and bloodshed before the end, but the Assad regime cannot last and the writing is on the wall. What will come after no one can tell, but at least it will be a defeat for Iran.


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