"'America is something that can be easily moved. Moved to the right direction.They won’t get in our way'"
Monday, April 15, 2013
Bashar Assad's 'second wind'?
"Talks of tipping points, battles for Damascus and a regime on its last legs have all proved to be false dawns over the past number of months. So just how badly off is President Bashar al-Assad’s government?The Damascus government still has an arsenal of weapons that includes thousands of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, a fleet of MIG aircraft and thousands of rockets and surface-to-surface missiles. The city of Damascus – the chief prize – is today a fortress.On the battlefield, the regime has proved stubbornly resistant. In the north, government forces on Sunday broke out of their Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiya military bases and outflanked rebels that had been besieging them for months, according to both activists and pro-government media. Districts of central Homs have been retaken by the government in recent weeks and rebels have been successfully fought off in Quneitra, along the Syrian-Israeli demilitarized zone. Aleppo International Airport, a strategic asset for the regime in the north, was thought to have been close to falling into rebel hands in February. It hasn’t happened. Baba Amr, a symbol of resistance in Homs, was retaken by government forces last month. Reports of defections have all but died out – these days there are few in the Syrian army uncertain where their loyalties lie. ...... Food and fuel is still widely available in government-controlled Syria, albeit at inflated prices. Schools and public sector institutions remain open. Government salaries are still being paid.... Furthermore, Syria’s Western-backed political opposition has clearly been caught out in its own backing of Jabhat al-Nusra – an Islamist fighting force now openly aligned with Al-Qaeda. Mr. Assad has mostly delivered on the promises and threats he has made over the duration of the uprising. Early on he spoke of “ten Afghanistans” in Syria should outside forces intervene, or fundamentalist takfiris and Islamic extremists dominating the opposition. Though clearly propaganda at the time, today it is difficult to dismiss his argument, a perspective that resonates with the millions of Syrians exhausted by two years of conflict and instability.... The declaration of an al-Qaeda presence in Syria in the form of Nusra complicates the conflict even further: the Assad regime will say it has been proven right, as will Russia, China and Hezbollah...."