Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Predictions & assessments of Assad's imminent downfall are premature"

[Le Monde/ Diplo]
"... It must be asked to what extent international powers share responsibility for sustaining or, worse, agitating, the conflict? For example, Turkey has, according to Turkish press reports, struck Syria 87 times, killing 12 soldiers and destroying tanks, since a — likely — stray shell fired in Syria hammered into a home in a Turkish frontier town in October, killing five members of a family. Yet Turkey allows fighters and weapons to flow freely across its border — and was involved in organizing opposition forces and providing logistical support — and there are FSA bomb-making factories in and around Antakya. In essence, Turkey, which forms Nato’s eastern bulwark, has aggressively pursued a policy of regime change in Syria and subsequently has come dangerously close to igniting a regional war.The coverage of the Syrian crisis has been hard due to propaganda and misinformation. In the case of Turkey, this culminated with Nato’s looming deployment of the Patriot missile defence system to “defend” the country from Syrian missiles, justified in an environment of misinformation and fuelled by fears that Syria could use chemical weapons in both strikes on Syria’s opposition and Turkey. In reality, Turkey realized that it had got ahead of its allies on the Syria point and was in need of further support to continue its policy of regime change in Damascus. Damascus has longer-range missile capabilities, hence the need for the Patriot system. Turkish aggression could prompt a more forceful response from Damascus.
Presently, received wisdom has it that Assad’s regime has reached “end game” or, at the very least, that the rebels are on the point of winning the conflict. Assad’s response to peaceful protests 21 months ago and his subsequent actions have certainly been monstrous. Yet predictions and assessments of his imminent downfall appear premature and seem part of a broader pattern since the Arab Spring of trying to impose a wished-for reality on events. (The Arab Spring was never an exclusively Arab affair anyway: Tebu, Berbers, Akhdam and Kurds all participated in the waves of insurgency to varying degrees.)
Assad retains significant support and it is almost impossible to accurately estimate the impact of rebel gains throughout swathes of the country. Most sensible analysts see these gains as the corollary of strategy in Damascus: to consolidate its forces and abandon strategically marginal bases..."

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