(…) After two years of bloody attrition, the unpalatable truth is Assad is still in power, shows no sign of heeding demands to quit and is far from beaten. (…)
Explanations for this remarkable feat of survival lie not with Assad’s personal abilities, which are limited, nor with the durability of his domestic supporters, who are in the minority, nor with the president’s ruthlessness in prosecuting the military campaign. More potent has been his subtler achievement in convincing would-be western interventionists that awful though he is, what might follow him would almost certainly be worse. (…)
(…) One powerful aspect is the highlighting of the growing role of Islamist fundamentalists inside Syria, whom Assad regularly decries as foreign terrorists threatening the Syrian nation. This jihadi “scare factor” is rooted in last February’s video message by the al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he called on pious Muslims, primarily Sunnis living in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, to help destroy the Syrian regime.
“Since then, the message has spread further afield, and the lure of joining the jihad in Syria against a Shia dictator is drawing in young men from around the world,” said analyst Tobias Feakin in The Australian. Rising numbers of volunteers, estimated at up to 2,500 in total from as far away as Indonesia and Xinjiang in China, have dispersed in myriad suspect groups including the Free Syrian Army, Liwa al-Islam, Katibat al-Ansar, Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, which has close links with al-Qaida in Iraq.
The dawning realisation that Syria was not another Egypt or Libya, whose revolutions produced relatively clear-cut results, and that it might well become another failed state, harbouring al-Qaida fanatics bent on global confrontation, has had a big impact on western opinion, not least in the US. This fear has been compounded by numerous reports, widely credited in Israel and the US, that Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal could fall into jihadi hands. (…)
(…) But at the same time, the argument about doing what needs to be done militarily and logistically to ensure that objective, for example by arming the rebels, seems to be over – and the rebels are the losers. Despite the rebooting of opposition forces under the umbrella Syrian National Coalition, weapons supplies and financial aid are drying up. Even the Sunni Gulf states seem to be having second thoughts as they contemplate a post-Assad Syria sliding into post-Saddam style anarchy.
Israel’s decision to build border defences across the Golan and Turkey’s deployment of Patriot missiles along its border symbolise this shifting reality. The aim now is not to liberate Syria but to isolate it and quarantine it and to contain the contagion.
(…) all point to one conclusion: that the west is not serious about enforcing Assad’s demise. It is a message that Assad has undoubtedly heard.
“Despite the efforts of Brahimi – and also of more sympathetic powers such as Russia and China, as well as Assad’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah – to promote a negotiated settlement, the regime has shown no interest in acceding to a democratic transition that would lead to its ouster. And its leaders believe they are fighting the rebels to a stalemate,” said Tony Karon in Time. Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, told Karon that, whatever the US state department might say, the fact is that Assad is not budging.
Who are the rebels?
Who is supporting them?
They need weapons and manpower to lead a war, to free their country. They have shaken hands with the devil for munition and smuggle. What happens to those with the money, to those who fear no war or death, after they have won (even if that’s an unrealistic scenario right now)? They will not step down.
Everything formerly secular will dissolve.
Every former minority will be put on display, hunted into exile.
Nobody said Assad was a great man.
But this is a lose-lose situation.
Even the rebels don’t know anymore what to fight against anymore. To free their country from Assad to give it away to their creditors.
Contain the virus, says the West.
Well fuck the West.