Sunday, February 05, 2012

Where To From Here?

The double veto by China and Russia surprised me. I had, on a very minute scale, allowed myself to hope for even a watered down resolution that would at least condemn the violence that we've been seeing. But whatever the reasons, the United Nations route is now closed for good. So where does this take us?

Well, I'm starting to hear people ask for an international crisis group that does not include China or Russia to start taking action. I guess this will include Turkey as well, and there has been renewed talk of some Turkish buffer zone implemented in the north of Syria. Alternatively, we might see a drastic arming of the Free Syrian Army, and an escalation of the conflict to a fully blown civil war. If that happens I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if the Russians (and Iran) continue to arm Assad to the gills. So we will have a new Lebanese civil war with many different powers funding the opposing sides. It's not a good result, and I don't think anybody, apart from Assad, would want to see that happen. Of course Assad would prefer this solution because it would justify his oppression and use of violence, and also extend the period of his rule.

Alternatively, the Syrian regime could be allowed to implode under the continued pressure being applied both through the FSA and the mass disobedience in the country. For months now we have been hearing that many in the regime would like to defect, and that they feel uncertain about their future. Defecting members of the security services speak - and of course they would - of a shambolic armed forces that is on the verge of collapse. There is growing discontent in the country, and only this morning I've heard on the news that the largest sugar production facility in the country, a  multi-million dollar venture that turned Syria from an importer of sugar to an exporter, has now been closed due to the deteriorating security conditions. Earlier today I also heard reports that somebody had hacked into the mobile phone operators and that people were receiving (false) news that Bashar had been murdered and replaced by his brother Maher.

I don't know who did that, a disgruntled employee perhaps, or maybe a more sophisticated attack at the mobile network, which would probably point at somebody from outside the country and with the know-how to mount such an act. Again, who knows? All of these stories may or may not be true, and the opposition is not unknown to embellish facts - a counter-productive and futile exercise. Assad may be stronger than they are telling the world. Of course, if he was as strong as his supporters claim him to be, then he would have crushed this protest movement a long time ago. After ten months, it is still amazing that the revolution - albeit weaponized now - has managed to survive in spite of the regime's best efforts. It is this reality on the ground, this undisputed fact - that Assad is no longer the master of Syria - which brings us back to a grounded foundation that is unassailable and free of the murky confusion that propaganda has created.

I suspect that the weaker Assad's ability to weave a narrative to hide behind, the quicker his fall will become. Already, most people do not believe the rubbish that is produced on his television channels, and his cries of conspiracy grow weaker by the day. It is this iron-grip over the media and his ability to continue pumping misinformation and confusion to the Syrians which should also be challenged. The protests will continue, as will the armed efforts of the poorly equipped and organised Free Syrian Army. But another front against the foundations of the regime's media effort could weaken it considerably. Nobody said revolutions are easy, and I think Syrians will now redouble their efforts to evade his security services and continue on the path they have chosen.


Anonymous said...

Profound and well thought article.The problem now in front of Syria is stalemate.

Anonymous said...

If you agree I would like to translate most of your posts.
This one is here (in French)