Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The End Of Syria

al Suriya Kubra!

Six years into the Syrian war, the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is ensured — but it has become something of a facade and lacks a strategy for reuniting the country. The sometimes sharply differing interests of Russia and Iran from above, and the local concerns of a myriad array of pro-regime irregular militias from below, are the decisive factors — not the decisions of the country’s nominal rulers. This impacts the calculus of the “regime” side in the war, in determining its strategy in the conflict.

Just take a look at how the war has developed since late last year, when things seemed to be going well for the regime. The rebellion had been driven out of its last fingerholds in eastern Aleppo city, seemingly paving the way for the eventual defeat of the insurgency. But five months later, while the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they appear still far from collapse. Idlib province, areas of Latakia, Hama, northern Aleppo, and large swaths of the south remain in rebel hands.

The rebels in the south received a boost this week when a coalition airstrike targeted forces loyal to Assad that were advancing on a base used by U.S. and British Special Forces. If the United States and its partners are willing to use force to defend allied groups in the area, it is hard to envision how the regime can hope to reestablish its rule there.

Further east, the war against the Islamic State is being prosecuted by a powerful U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This force will shortly embark on the conquest of Raqqa, the last remaining city in Syria fully controlled by the retreating Islamic State.

In other words, the rumors of the death of the rebellion have been greatly overstated. And some of its component parts apparently possess considerable vigor and strength.

Does the Assad regime have a strategy for the reunification of the country, or has Syria’s fragmentation now become an unavoidable reality?

Syria, after all, is today divided into no less than seven enclaves: the territory controlled by the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons, and the Islamic State area.

What is the government’s strategy to reverse this fragmentation?

 “We have absolute faith that this is a temporary situation. The major reason for this faith is that the Syrian people start to understand the conspiracy against them.”

In other words, there is no strategy at all, but the kind of conspiracy theories that no self-respecting Baathist should be without. In fact, no evidence exists of any overarching plan to divide Syria — nor do any of the major forces in the country support its breakup. Syria’s de facto division is a result of the inability of any force to prevail over all the others, not of design.

That is, Syria will be divided between the regime enclave in the west, the Sunni Arab rebels in the northwest and southwest, a Turkish-ensured rebel enclave in the north, an SDF-controlled region in the northeast, and some arrangement involving both the SDF and Western-backed Arab rebels in the east.

As this process plays out, the Russians will continue to do as they wish by day and night in Damascus, the gap between regime rhetoric and reality will remain as gaping as ever, the rebels and the Kurds will continue to march in tune with their own patrons’ wishes. Meanwhile, the stark fact will continue to remain unsaid: namely, that the state known as Syria has effectively ceased to exist.


sykes.1 said...

It is reported today that ISIS is being allowed to evacuate Raqqa by the Kurdish YPG. So, their survival seems assured, too.

The Russians have attacked at least one of the ISIS convoys, but there is no word on any American action. It is widely believed in the Middle East that the US supports ISIS in Syria, if not Iraq.

Col. B. Bunny said...

** In fact, no evidence exists of any overarching plan to divide Syria **

DOD Message (8/5/12) obtained by Judicial Watch: [Western, Gulf State, Turkish support for Syrian "opposition." Possibility of establishing salafist principality in eastern Syria].