Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Revolution in Review

Assad's war against the Syrian people continues unabated and with little major changes. I don't have a lot of optimism about the Arab League summit in Baghdad, and I don't think much of Kofi Annan's latest proposal. Assad has said that he accepts the proposal, on the condition that what he calls "terrorist" groups  stop their violence against his government. The vulgarity of this man astounds me. Last week he performed what can only be described as a victory tour of the Baba Amr district of Homs, amidst the ruin that his own killing machine had wrought on the people there. So where is this all leading? Nowhere, and very slowly.

Assad is opting for overwhelming violence on the ground domestically, and with diplomatic stalling abroad. The Syrian opposition abroad is still trying to get its act together, the domestic opposition is impotent, and the various groups that fall under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army have failed utterly in their attempts to both protect civilians from Assad's militias, and to hold ground against the regular Syrian army that is still loyal to Assad. But, and this is a very important proviso, the Syrian revolution has not failed. Far from it. The Syrian oppositions and the FSA have failed in their plans, that is true, but the revolution has forever shattered the prison of silence once known as Assad's Syria. In that sense the revolution is a resounding success, and there is nothing that Assad's tanks and thugs can do to return things to the status pre-March 15th, 2011.

The solution in Syria lies in the Assad regime realising that it can no longer impose its will on the country, and forcing it to the negotiating table with the opposition (even in its current incompetent form). This is going to happen slowly but surely according to reports from people I know in the country, for the sanctions in Syria are starting to bite very deeply. Assad's pockets are not as deep as Gaddafi's and he cannot continue in the face of these crippling sanctions indefinitely. The other point, and this is not focused on by anybody, is that the heart of the opposition against Assad's regime is not just overwhelmingly Sunni, but it emerges from the two areas of the country whose population are renowned as doughty, warlike and tough. Both Idlib and the Hauran have been where Syria's average fighting man was traditionally recruited from, even from the days of the Ottomans. T.E. Lawrence, in his, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", describes Deraa as the navel of the Ottoman empire, and he placed enormous importance on seizing it in order to recruit additional fighters from the peasant population there. Idlib too is the traditional recruiting ground not only for Syria's regular army, but also for its merchant fleet, and its inhabitants are rugged and obstinate. The biggest testimony to their resilience is the fact that, after a year of shelling and intensive military assaults, the Idlib and Hauran areas continue to rise up and refuse to submit to Assad.

In the two key cities, Damascus and Aleppo, there is also said to be great dissatisfaction with Assad, though that does not necessarily equate to support for Syria's oppositions. I still firmly believe that, if the regime's iron grip of the city and its key areas weakens even momentarily, then we will see enormous anti-regime demonstrations there. Of course the regime knows full well that whoever dominates Aleppo and Damascus can dominate Syria. Still, this strategy might be successful against other political opponents, but rising popular dissatisfaction and revolution are something this regime has never had to contend with before. A close friend who is also linked with the regime confirmed to me that this regime still hasn't the faintest idea how to stop the protests and quell the revolution. They are simply reacting in the only way they know how, through brute force, and yet this is failing utterly in spite of the enormous death toll inflicted.

The longer this situation continues, and it is already intolerable, the more possible we can see new factors emerging from within Syria to challenge Assad. Only last year people were confidently predicting that this would be over within days, weeks or months. In February last year nobody would have thought it possible that Syria would have a revolution, and yet here we are today. We cannot discount future and surprising developments emerging from the people. More and more people are seeing through this regime's lies, and recognising that it is the one behind most of the thousands of deaths that have taken place so far. Maybe at some point, and probably after many more deaths, there might be enough internal pressure on Assad to finally sit on the table and take his country seriously for a change.


Anonymous said...

You're spot on in your analysis. Once Assad can't pay the salaries of the millions of government employees who have already lost more than 50% of their purchasing power, and most significantly once the Shabiha mercenaries are not paid every Thursday then his and the regime's days are numbered. It might not happen tomorrow or the day after but it's not as far ahead in the future as the "intelligent loyalists" (a term used to describe the Menhebkjieh who speak and write a second language) think it is.
No matter when or how, he won't rule Syria forever.

Anonymous said...

If, and this is a big "IF" this Butcher has one cell of humanity in his head or somewhere else in his body
he will "sit on the table and take his country for serious change" Rest assure, that neither he or anyone in his family has.

Their past and present deeds, their systematic destruction of man and land is a clear manifest, 42 years of wishful thinking is sufficient.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few ifs here:

if the Assads run out of money then the shabiha hava carte blanche to rob whatever they wish. which they have been doing anyways, but if the money runs out then we can expect the looting or blackmail to increase.

its not just about Assad, its about his family and entourage aswell, which for some reason dont get mentioned enough. bashar might have some humanity left in him, might!!??, but that does not mean the rest of the clan have, and i doubt they have any humanity in them

for them syria is their source of income, the shabiha, security forces, mukhabarat et al have the syrian people as their source of income...i doubt they will let go that easily.

if rebels accept ceasefire plan then they will take the "terrorist" storyline to another level,

the assad mafia do not want to leave, i doubt they will come to sense and i see this being a fight between the people and the assads + cronies