November 16, 2012: The U.S., Turkey, France, and Britain have agreed to forget about seeking UN approval before arming (starting with anti-aircraft missiles) the Syrian rebels. Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland also back this move but want all 27 nations of the EU (European Union) to agree. The Russian veto in the UN had blocked UN support of the rebels and Russia is still staunchly backing the Assad dictatorship. The new Western backing will, in addition, get more aid to Turkey, which is getting most of the Syrian refugees (which are now sometimes over 10,000 a day). Because of growing food and other supply shortages throughout the country the rebellion is not expected to last more than another six months.
In the last week Syrian troops have abandoned four towns in the Kurdish northeast, as Kurdish militias present more opposition than the Assad security forces want to deal with. There is also fear that if the army takes on the Kurds, this will bring in the even more powerful Iraqi Kurds just across the border. Normally the Turks would help in a situation like this but the Turks are backing the Syrian rebels. The two million Syrian Kurds are not part of the rebel coalition and the question of Kurdish autonomy is being left for post-Assad negotiations. Many rebel factions are willing to give the Kurds some autonomy but the Turks are opposed. This battle will be fought later.
Russia is still trying to arrange peace talks and a negotiated end to the war that would leave the Assads with some power. Iran is also trying to arrange this sort of deal. This is all unacceptable to the rebels and the Assads have made it clear that they are fighting for victory or death.
Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs have become major battlegrounds as the government continues trying to drive rebels out of neighborhoods and shells and bombs those areas the rebels control. This is causing over a thousand deaths a week and the total deaths from 20 months of violence is now over 40,000. The Kurds have driven the army out of the northeast and the rest of eastern Syria is held by Sunni tribes that have long been dominant in that region. In the west, along the coast, the Alawites (who are the core of the Assad support) are the majority. The center of the country is where most of the fighting is going on, especially the two major cities (Aleppo and Damascus). This is where the Assads will lose the war.
Rebels have seized nearly all the villages along the Israeli border. This has caused some bullets and mortar shells to fall into Israeli territory and the Israelis have returned fire against Syrian Army troops. It’s unclear if some of the rebels belong to Islamic terrorist groups. If that is the case, these terrorists might deliberately fire on Israeli troops, because all Islamic terrorists see Israel as their primary enemy.
November 15, 2012: France has joined the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and the United States in recognizing the new National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The GCC (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait) recognized the National Coalition yesterday and will continue to supply refugee aid, weapons, and cash. The new National Coalition is supposed to control any Islamic radical factions, coordinate military operations within Syria, and organize a new government in parts of Syria controlled by the rebels. Outside of Syria, the National Coalition is supposed to keep the peace among the growing refugee population. No one expects the National Coalition to do all this perfectly but a noticeable improvement is expected. Western nations want to avoid a post-Assad Syria turning into an Islamic terrorist sanctuary or yet another civil war among rebel factions. Meanwhile, media in the Moslem (and especially the Arab) world is increasingly accusing the West of deliberately withholding military aid so that more Moslems can be killed fighting each other. This is a situation where no matter what the West does it will be accused by Moslem media and clergy of deliberately striving to kill Moslems and attack Islam. What the West really wants is for the Moslem world to take care of their own. But the Moslem world is not only incapable of doing that but is unwilling to admit that they are too weak and disorganized to do the deed. The Moslem world is making a good effort to deal with the nearly half million Syrians who have fled their homeland. Getting aid to the ten percent of the Syrian population that are refugees within Syria has proved much more difficult.
South Korea revealed that last May it had intercepted and seized a cargo of North Korea missile components headed for Syria. The Chinese ship had stopped in a South Korean port to pick up some more cargo when the discovery was made.
November 14, 2012: The Turkish Air Force has begun regular air patrols along its Syrian border. The F-16s have orders to shoot down any Syrian warplanes that cross the border. Over the last few days the Syrian Air Force has been concentrating its bombing attacks on rebel held towns on the Turkish border.
November 11, 2012: A wide range of Syrian rebel groups have agreed to form a new umbrella organization: the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. This new group was formed to make it possible to receive more aid from Western nations, which fear Islamic radical groups will take over the revolution and turn Syria into an Islamic terrorist sanctuary. The GCC and the Arab League quickly recognized the National Coalition (formed with GCC help) and urged Western nations to do so as well. Four days of negotiations resulted in the Syrian National Council being replaced by the National Coalition.