Potential Hot Spots: Iran Has An App For That

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June 28, 2011: Three months of increasing violence in Syria have left nearly 2,000 dead. The government claims 400 security forces killed, most of them soldiers. It's not known if these include rebellious soldiers who were killed by other security forces.  Some 15,000 people have fled to Turkey or Lebanon while over 10,000 have been arrested. Syrian hardliners, with the help of Iran, believe that the only way to halt the unrest is via terror against anyone who demonstrates. The Iranian security specialists are advocating terror techniques that have worked in Iran. This is basic stuff. You identify the organizers of the unrest and go after them. You also arrest or kill anyone else who causes trouble in public. At the same time, you use money and favors to maintain and expand your informer network. This has fallen apart in the last few months, as the public has turned on the hated government informants and shut them up (or persuaded some to join the protestors calling for democracy). The government is so confident that their terror plan, with the help of Iran (which supplies cash to keep informers happy, intel experts to help identify those to be killed, gunmen to help with the killing and weapons as needed), will work that they openly proclaim that they expect the current unrest to be crushed within two months. Might take longer than that, and if the opposition can withstand the death squads and terror tactics, it might not work at all.

For the Iranian plan to work, the security forces have to quickly move from town to town, and city neighborhood to city neighborhood to root out opposition leaders, restore reformers and Assad supporters, warn potential protestors that deadly force will be used if there is anymore unrest, and move on to the next location to be "cleansed." At a certain point, there is minimal protest acvivity, and the government can declare victory. This is the technique the communists perfected nearly a century ago, to purge a country of potential opposition. So the Iranians and Assads know it works. You just have to be as ruthless as it takes. Basher Assad, the leader of the Assads, wanted to be loved (unlike his father, the founder of the Assad dictatorship, who only wanted to stay in power.) Basher has been convinced he must, first of all, be feared and obeyed. Iran has an app for that.

There is one source of opposition that the secret police cannot reach, and that's the reformers living abroad and the refugees that recently fled to Lebanon and Turkey. Most of these people are living in camps that Syria sees as bases for troublemakers. For the last few weeks, increasing numbers of troops were sent to the border areas near these camps, to make it more difficult for people to leave Syria, or for people in the camps to sneak back into Syria. In response, Turkey has moved more troops up to its side of the border, to insure that Syria does not try to stage raids on the camps. This would be foolish, since the Syrian Army is no match for the Turks. But the Turks are not taking any chances, as it's clear that the Assad clan is desperate to maintain control, and might do something really foolish. Actually, the Assads already have, which is why they are in danger of losing control of the country. The Assads have increasingly run Syria as if it were a monarchy, and could be plundered at will. This attitude has crippled the economy and there is not a lot left to steal. This has weakened the resolve of many groups that had long supported the Assads (in return for economic benefits, which have deteriorated over time.) But in the last few months, the Assads have reminded their supporters that a new government would not be kindly towards those who benefitted from the Assads. The Iranians understand this, and back the use of lethal force against the demonstrators, because it increases the popular desire for revenge against the Assads and their supporters. That forces those supporters to be loyal, and as cruel as they need to be.

Western nations have imposed more sanctions on Syria, and Turkey threatens to invade if Syrian troops set foot across the border. Iran is threatened with more sanctions because of its support of the terror campaign inside Syria. The sanctions, or threats of more, are apparently having no effect.

June 27, 2011:  In Damascus, some 200 government opponents met (with government approval) and agreed that peaceful demonstrations were the way to go. At the same time, the government promised more reforms. Protest leaders, especially those outside the country, accused the 200 of working for the government, by trying to make phony government "reforms" appear legitimate.  

June 24, 2011: As usual, dozens of anti-government demonstrations took place throughout the country. Friday is the day for protests, but it also provides the government with a list of places to send its security forces and death squads.

June 22, 2011: Basher Assad offered an amnesty to protestors, but this had little impact on the growing unrest.

 

 

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