Syria Lurches Toward Civil War

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A grenade attack on Baath Party headquarters in an upscale section of Damascus on Saturday apparently caused no injuries and did little damage. But the symbolic impact of the attack was clear: armed insurgents, including many military defectors based in Turkey, have taken the conflict to a new level by striking at the heart of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the capital city. The attack comes as Islamists in the Syrian National Council have begun to emerge as major players in the opposition group.

The attack also comes as the Arab League appears ready to ratchet up the pressure on Assad after a deadline to implement the peace deal agreed to between the League and the Syrian government passed without any visible change to the behavior of the Syrian military toward civilian demonstrators.

Opposition groups have formally asked Turkey to intervene militarily to protect civilians, an idea that Ankara seems to be seriously entertaining. A newspaper with close ties to the government of Prime Minister Erdogan reports that Turkey would not take such action without approval from both the UN and the Arab League. This is not likely to happen until the League exhausts its diplomatic options for implementing the peace deal.

The deal, inked earlier this month, called for Assad to release all political prisoners, withdraw the military from cities and towns, and allow 500 Arab League observers to enter Syria to ensure that the conditions of the pact were being carried out. The League gave Assad a Saturday deadline to live up to his end of the bargain, but instead, the Syrian military renewed attacks on several cities and the regime attempted to renegotiate the terms involving the number of Arab League observers who would be allowed in. On Sunday, the League refused to renegotiate the status of the observers. Arab foreign ministers planned to meet on Thursday to decide what steps to take next to pressure Assad to halt his slaughter of civilians.

Diplomatic activity was also picking up over the weekend as France called for more European Union sanctions on Syria, while other European powers planned to ask the UN Human Rights Council to pass a resolution condemning the Assad regime for the crackdown. While not requiring the Security Council to take action, the resolution would be taken to the General Assembly where overwhelming passage would be expected.

There will be no action taken by the Security Council because both Russia and China oppose any sanctions on Syria and are unalterably opposed to any Libyan style intervention. To underscore the latter, Haaretz is reporting that a Syrian news agency has announced that Russian ships will enter the country’s territorial waters in order to deter any intervention that might be forthcoming from the UN or the West.

The “Free Libyan Army” based in Turkey alternately took credit and denied responsibility for the grenade attack on Baath Party headquarters. The FSA, made up of former Syrian soldiers who have deserted and defected to the opposition, has a long way to go to being an effective military counter to Assad’s armored units, which occupy many large cities around the country. British ambassador to Syria, Simon Collis, told the Wall Street Journal, “The fact that people have popped off a couple of RPGs at nighttime against symbolic targets — that by itself only means that something is happening in Damascus that wasn’t happening before.” While true, the armed opposition certainly appears to be coalescing under the FSA banner which brings the day closer when a serious civil war could break out and the entire country will be forced to choose sides.

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  • UCSPanther

    I wonder how Iran would react should Assad be forced to flee. Iran appeared to be the one to benefit from the Arab spring, but Assad's regime coming under fire could be considered the game changer.

    I also suspect the Ayatollahs know that they are a few misteps away from sharing the same fate as Gaddafi…

    • Herman Caintonette

      They are. Remember the Green Revolution?

  • oldtimer

    Isaiah 17?

  • StephenD

    “The Arab League, the international community, and Syria’s neighbors are scrambling to come up with a formula…There will be no action taken by the Security Council because both Russia and China oppose any sanctions on Syria and are unalterably opposed to any Libyan style intervention.”
    So what are we supposed to do? I say step aside. We have no dog in this fight. Just make it clear to the world we will not suffer any interference with our oil supply or any aggression toward our ally, Israel. Leave them to their own and see what emerges. Russia and China want a say in this, let them have it. Put the mess squarely on their shoulders for resolution…like the world has done with us lo these many years.

    • Herman Caintonette

      For once, I agree with you — apart from the point that Israel is not threatened by this situation, and protecting Israel is not our job. T'ain't our fight.

    • StephenD

      I LOVE that no one is responding to Herman "killing Jewish kids is morally legitimate" Caintonette.
      Invalidation is what he deserves here on FPM.

  • Herman Caintonette

    The beauty of this is that this was all brought about by commodity traders in Chicago.

    • jacob

      I dare say you don't bray because the anathomical comformation of your
      throat prevents you from, as otherwise you would communicate the way
      jackasses do….

      I believe your statement of CHICAGO commodity traders brought all it
      about deserves deep analysis and I don't doubt for a split second many
      jackasses will….
      By the way, which commodity does Syria sell ?????

      • skulldiggerin

        I agree with you on every point, except your demeaning of the jackass.
        Donkeys are noble animals.
        A donkey rebuked the venal prophet Balaam.
        Another one along with its ox pal kept The Baby Jesus Warm.
        And a young donkey served as Mount For our LORD When HE RODE Into Jerusalem.

    • nightspore

      Are you saying that commodity traders set policy – such as corn for ethanol?

      Of course, in the funhouse-mirror world of the Left this is the Way Things Are.

      • Herman Caintonette

        By implication. Remember when oil was $125 a barrel? How much of that was due to speculation?

        That's what happened to food. The dictators couldn't absorb the costs. It was the straw that –appropriate for Egypt — broke the camel's back.

  • Attila the Hun

    Eventually Assad will go but not without setting the entire region on fire. No wonder why Erdoğan is hesitant to take any action. He knows what will happen after Assad. Unavoidable Syrian civil war will spread into Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and who knows where else. What we are seeing is the unraveling post WWI middle east map based on artificial boundaries. With. Americans leaving Iraq, Iran getting closer to nuclear bomb, Egypt drifting into chaos and Syria in a verge of civil var 2012 will be the historical crescendo for the ME

  • matt

    It is not civil war yet, the first phase was peace protests calling for reform, that was met with extreme violence, so the peace protests turned into a peaceful uprising regime change. Now it has turned into armed uprising, it is in the form of an insurgency not civil war. The insurgency could lead to civil war. What did the world expect just because Russia, Chine, Iran say it is so does not make it so. People are going to arm themselves and defend themselves and rightly so. The FSA do not agree to a peaceful end, because it is an illusion.

  • matt

    It takes time for the weapons to get from Libya to the FSA. The Russia, China, Iran believed he could crush phase one, then two and now three. It may take years but Assad will lose the insurgency. Just as he lost the first two phases. Because people are stupid when the FSA inflicted loses and makes the Syrian security forces weaker, then sectarian groups some via fear others that supported the regime will enter into conflict, others wanting to gain a position of strength as the regime collapses, then it will be civil war, but that is for the political suits.

  • matt

    The US is the best armed, most modern professional military in the world and we had a hard time in Iraq, so you can see what Assad is in for with the insurgency he faces. BTW that office they hit is where they run foreign terrorism out of. The Russian know that the UN will not intervene so any naval presence is to prevent arms smuggling. Blame Qaddafi and Russia it is their weapons that are awash in the Mid East. The AL is talking about the killing of civilians, not the insurgency between Assad and the FSA. They know the regime and the man if they say the war must go on then it must go on.

  • matt

    Why don't the Russian invade Syria. Put you manhood where your mouth is, save your base. Sand on the boots. Because that is the only way you are going to save that regime, and I mean prolong it and that base. Come on in the weather nice, the waters warm and the blood runs free. I always got one well with people in the Mid East, Jews, Arabs, perhaps it was my upbringing my best friends were both a Jew and a Syrian, perhaps it is that I always remembered that I was merely a guest in someone else neighborhood.