Monday, January 30, 2012

Whichever group thought it a good idea to grab some toeholds in Damascus over the weekend played a smart move. Rather than try to hold out against Assad's regular troops, forcing him to pin down loyal troops in parts of the capital as well as Aleppo means that he has less to deploy in problem areas throughout the country. A few more attempts like this every so often will give other groups operating in the country a bit more breathing space and could start shrinking the regime's options.

The parallels between Saddam's Iraq and Syria are very strong, and I think both the regimes share the same weaknesses. Namely that there are only so many divisions in the army whose loyalty is unquestionable, and they can only be in some parts of the country. The more the regular army is depended upon, the more likely defections and desertions will take place, so if Assad's loyal divisions can be tied down protecting key areas, then that means there are less of his fighters killing protesters or bombing towns and villages in the rest of the country. The Guardian reports:

Opposition groups, spearheaded by the irregular forces of the Free Syrian Army claim to have made a tactical withdrawal from the areas, mainly on Damascus's northen outskirts, and have vowed to mount more guerrilla-style operations as their campaign against President Bashar al-Assad's regime enters a new phase.
So any expectations by some people that this was the start of a liberation for the Syrian capital were premature. Apart from the Zabadani there just aren't any areas where the Free Syrian Army can hold its ground against Assad. I use the term "army" loosely, because I share the view of many people that this isn't really a unified and disciplined fighting force, but just a band of deserters and enthusiastic volunteers who are operating independently of each other in most cases.


Rukan Razuki said...

We have seen this before - in Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Daraa. Regime forces move in with Tanks and heavy weaponry, lightly armed FSA fighters make a tactical withdrawal, the regime forces take out their anger and frustraion on the civilian residents, then the FSA regroups and launches hit-and-run attacks in the regime forces and checkpoints, eventually the regime forces are forced to withdraw from the neighborhoods. Thanks to FSA, Damascus Suburbs has become Homs 2.

Even more significant is the FSA presence in Zabadani, Qalamoun and Rankous, these are tourist spots with rich Damascenes and khaleejis come to spend their summers, the regime will be losing a lot in revenue from tourism. Also note that these are heavily Christian populated towns, that definitely has its significance.

Maysaloon said...

Thanks for your comments. Sadly your analysis is true and the situation will probably get far worse. I am very pessimistic about where this whole country is going. I do not share your desire to blame the Free Syrian Army for the destruction that has been wrought on the country.

I judge this to be a failure of leadership from Bashar al Assad down. The actions of the Free Syrian Army might not be in the best interests of the country, but the reckless manner in which the regime has handled this crisis has been irresponsible and led to the deaths of thousands of civilians. I condemn Assad and his government in the strongest possible terms and if they had any self respect or concern for the country they would have resigned months ago.