Monday, June 3, 2013

"The Syrian opposition is at an end ..."

"... As the Syrian regime tightens its grip the besieged town of Qusayr, it has been quietly making gains elsewhere in the country, winning back key roads and towns from a rebel force desperately short of weapons and ammunition.While Iran and Russia have kept a steady flow of armaments and other supplies into Syria, the sporadic flow of weapons to the rebels, turned on and off like a tap by opposition backers Saudi Arabia and Qatar, severely limited their scope, experts warned.
Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, says while the battle for Qusayr is important, other clashes around the country are of equal concern.
"Long before Hezbollah got involved in the conflict in Qusayr, the regime had already been taking the initiative, using new tactics, opening up counter-offensives or new fronts over the last two-to-four months," Mr Sayigh said.
He named the Syrian army's push into Damascus, its success in regaining much of the ground it lost around the southern city if Daraa near the Jordanian border, taking back a key road into Aleppo, as well as breaking the siege on Wadi Deif in the Idlib province, as evidence of a significant change in tactics from the regime.
"Strategically the regime has the advantage but this doesn't mean a total military victory."
It has been attempting to "follow up on military gains by stabilising and providing basic services for civilian population" ...
As for any hopes that the Syrian opposition might finally unite, Carnegie's Mr Sayigh warned it was highly unlikely, describing its situation as "woeful".
"It was never a functioning leadership body, it is very divided and most recently we have seen it fail to launch a provisional government and barely survive co-opting new members into the coalition," he said.
The issue of whether the Syrian National Coalition should attend the US and Russia-backed Geneva peace conference will irrevocably divide its supporters, he said. "There are those who say 'we cannot afford to turn our backs on this conference, we have to participate' and those who say 'we will fight on the death'.
"The Syrian opposition is at an end ... if it had made any effort to offer up political alternatives, to accept that it needed to neutralise Assad's supporters or shown it had an ability to engage in meaningful debate, things might be different."

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