Monday, May 20, 2013

Saving Assad

There are three main potential outcomes to the Syrian morass, either it will continue as now, a protracted stalemate, or there will be Turkish and/or US intervention in support of the Sunni insurrection, or there will be Iranian/Hizbollah intervention in support of the Alawite regime.  Actually, option three is already occuring, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) is actively engaged in military action in Syria in support of the Assad regime, and Hizbollah, which is a fully owned proxy of Iran is also engaged militarily.  That is why the insurrection, supported by Turkey and Qatar, has been brought back to a stalemate.  In the past few days the Assad forces with Hizbollah military support have mounted an offensive on the town of el-Qusayr near the Israeli border and are making progress.  Neither side has the military muscle to obtain a knock-out punch.  The civil war has gone on for 2 years with ca. 70,000 casualties, why not 8 years like the Iran-Iraq war, that was an earlier phase of the Sunni-Shia conflict. 
The Israeli air strikes on the arms/missile depot run by the IRG near Damascus was a shock for Iran and Hizbollah.  Not only was it a secret depot, but it contained some of the most advanced weapons available to the Assad regime, that were destined to be shipped to Lebanon for the use of Hizbollah.  Although Hizbollah and Iran have warned of retaliation, so far they have not attempted any.  They probably fear giving Israel an excuse to really go in and flush them out, now knowing the accuracy of Israeli intelligence.  Some might think that in the kind of war sitation prevailing in Syria that this would make the task of gathering intelligence more difficult, but actually it's the opposite,  During the fog of war, it is easier to slip into Syria and observe what is going on, and the discrete use of drones would be hardly noticed during the daily bombardments.
Russia is playing a double game, supplying the Assad regime with weapons in order to retain its warm water port in Latakia, Syria, and at the same time giving hope to US and western initiatives to somehow stop the carnage.  But, at present there is no chance of that, notwithstanding wishful thinking and good intentions that the war will be stopped.  More thousands of Syrians will die until there is a victor.  But, as far as Israel is concerned, a pox on both their houses.  The Assad regime has been a key ally of Iran and Hizbollah, and one of the most militant enemies of Israel, and the extremist Sunni opponents of Assad are fanatical al Qaeda type enemies of Israel and the West.  It would be nice if a responsible pro-Western regime would emerge from the chaos of the Syrian civil war, as the US seems to project, but that would be expecting too much.


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