Syria: This Is The End

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January 25, 2012: Too many countries, especially Russia and several Arab League members, refuse to intervene on the side of the rebels, as was done in Libya, to end the fighting. Turkey does support intervention but would only do so with UN permission. Russia has a vote in the Security Council and vows to block any UN approval. Syrian rebel groups are united in their calls for foreign intervention. However, Russia is not willing to back Syria to the end and has made that clear recently. Both Iran and Russia have been pressuring Assad to try and make a deal, but Assad apparently feels that too much blood has been shed and the only way out is by trying to suppress the rebellion with force.

While the rebels now believe that they will eventually win, they want to avoid a drawn-out fight that will leave many Syrians dead and much of the economy in ruins. The rebels believe the Assad family and their allies are willing to fight on, as Kaddafi did in Libya. But because of the success of intervention in Libya many Arab League nations, still run by dictators, are unwilling to approve another Libya. The fear is that this sort of intervention would encourage more rebellions. So, unless Turkey comes in on its own (or with partial UN support) the rebellion will go on until the security forces collapse. That will leave many more Syrians dead, perhaps over 100,000.

The Syrian army is falling apart. The desertions continue and troop morale declines each day, especially if troops are being asked to fire on civilians. The only units the government can rely on are those that are Shia (Alawite). By that standard only about a quarter of the 400,000 men in the security forces can be used to attack the rebels. But many of those pro-government troops are needed to guard key political and economic assets (like the Presidential Palace and housing compounds of senior leaders). Rebel troops are increasingly free to travel around the country without encountering any pro-government forces.  Violence is increasing, with several hundred casualties each day. Fighting is particularly heavy and persistent in cities like Hama and Homs.

Syrian Kurds (about eight percent of the population) are negotiating with the rebels. The Kurds want autonomy in return for active participation in the rebellion. Arab Syrians fear such a deal will encourage the kind of separatist violence long practiced by Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.

January 23, 2012: A Russian newspaper revealed that Syria agreed to a $550 million deal to buy 36 Yak-130 jet trainers. The contract was quietly signed last December but production will not begin until Syria makes the first payment, which it has not done and probably won't as long as the rebellion is active. This is the sort of payback Russia wants for its support.

January 21, 2012: The Arab League agreed on a Syrian peace plan which calls for a new constitution and Basher Assad stepping down before the vote. The Assads and the rebels both rejected this.

January 20, 2012: In the northwest, roadside bombs hit vehicles carrying prisoners, killing 14 of them and wounding 26, along with six guards. Ambulances rushing to the scene were also shot at. The government accused the rebels and vice-versa.

Rebels attacked Douma, a town 14 kilometers outside the capital. There had been protests in Douma for months but now armed rebels were there attacking the security forces.

Syria agrees to allow the Arab League observers to remain in the country for another month. The monitors have been useless and a third of them (the Gulf States) have been withdrawn by Arab League members frustrated with Syrian intransigence. Syria accuses some Gulf Arab states (especially Qatar) of providing money and weapons to the rebels.

January 17, 2012: In an unprecedented act troops and rebels agreed to a ceasefire in the town of Zabadani (on the Lebanese border and 30 kilometers northwest of the capital).

 

 

 

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