The ‘Controlled Demolition’ of Syria

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US officials have let it be known that there has been a shift in US Syria policy away from trying to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis through the auspices of the United Nations, to an attempt to undermine and oust the Assad regime. The pressing nature of discussions by high level administration officials in recent days masks the fact that there really is very little that the US can do to assert control over post-Assad Syria. The vagaries of war makes any notion that we can direct events to our advantage, or mitigate some of the untoward consequences of sectarian strife, an illusion.

In truth, there are only subtle differences to be found in the new policy, with a change in emphasis rather than any dramatic alterations that would be noticeable. Instead of working through the UN where Russia has stymied efforts to put pressure on the Assad regime, the US will work more closely with regional allies like Turkey, the Gulf States, and Israel to try and manage what many observers now believe is the endgame for President Bashar Assad and his faltering regime. There will also be increased aid to the rebels — but no weapons, although the administration will beef up our intelligence presence on the Turkish border to facilitate the movement of arms to opposition forces. And there is now a “special urgency” to discussions at the highest levels of government about how to manage the post-Assad chaos that could degenerate into a sectarian civil war.

The shift comes as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is demonstrating an increased combat capability by attacking and briefly holding neighborhoods in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s two largest cities. But the more than 100 FSA units rarely cooperate and have limited command and control capability. The problem was highlighted by the Syrian army’s rapid retaking of most of those neighborhoods in Damascus over the last 48 hours. As part of the incremental shift in policy, the US plans to sell the FSA more communications equipment and train the rebels to use it. There are still rivalries and enmities between rebel factions, however, and making the disparate forces into an effective fighting organization will be a major challenge and will take time.

While some press reports in the last few days have made it seem that the Assad regime was on its last legs, nothing could be further from the truth. While defections by Sunni conscripts appear to have increased, loyalist forces show no sign of turning on the government. The 4th Division, commanded by Assad’s brother Mahar, is made up largely of Alawite officers and troops. They have been deployed in the capital where they have driven the rebels from many of the neighborhoods they captured a few days ago. Their tactics include indiscriminate shelling and the use of helicopter gunships. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands have fled their homes.

In addition, loyal troops possess most of the heavy weapons as well as Assad’s stockpile of WMD. The US has been particularly worried about Assad’s chemical weapons, which the regime admitted for the first time on Monday it had. Syria’s foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that they would only use WMD in the event of a foreign invasion. “All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression,” he said.

The New York Times reports that administration officials have had discussions with the Israelis about destroying Assad’s weapons facilities, but are not advocating such an attack. Apparently, if it was felt that the WMD would fall into the wrong hands, the Israelis would be prepared to destroy the stockpiles as a last resort.

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  • Gene W 1938

    A one world government can operate well with rogue leaders who refuse to accept the IMF [World Bank] and UN dictates. Assad's government has persecuted fewer people than the number of Christians killed by many Muslim led countries but the UN and our officials can abide with those atrocities. Those countries will not affect world power nor affect their agenda.
    Assad will be eliminated just like Iraq’s and Libya’s leaders were.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Obama has furthered his plans to place the Muslim Brotherhood in control of Muslim Nations and
    the Brotherhood is eliminating all dictators who are not part of their agenda for the rebuilding of the
    Caliphate. The agenda is World domination by Islam and it is going forward every where you look.
    The bad only eliminates lesser bad and you only get a worse result. The battle for Syria will
    leave Damascus a ruin and greater war will proceed….Russia and China will act.

  • Steve

    The massacre in Syria is horrendous to be sure. However, which side would you support if you were government? I know if I had two crocodiles in my back yard pond fighting I would not support either of them. Both are Islamic and both are ready and willing to destroy me the Infidel. Do you really think the Insurgents are any less violent than the Syrian government? Let the Muslims settle their own differences, and yes, unfortunately, there is collateral and innocent damage but that is the nature of the beast.

    • Glennd1

      I don't understand why more people don't see it this way, Steve. Why is this any of our affair to "manage" in the first place? I expect the federal govt to protect our interests and rights, period, that's all. How did we get to the point in which we have a state dept that is meddling globally 365/24×7? And to think the odious, opportunist, sad-sack Hilary Clinton is leading the charge, "representing" the U.S. at negotiating tables around the world? It makes me ashamed to be an American.

  • TessMax

    This analysis was written years ago and gives background to what is happening today. Here's the version in the Kurdish media…

    This newer article was written not long after the current revolt began…

  • Jerry

    Obama will not tolerate use of WMD. Wow, I bet that scares Assad


    The racist mainstream Western medias have become a joke, such as the "allahuakbar – allah is the greatest" jihadist-shouting loving CNN, BBC & Sky news – when reporting on the TERRORIST Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Obama’s REGIMES royals -sponsored Jew/Christian/women/girls-hating Nazi Muslim Brotherhood jihadists to Arabicize absolutely including by sexually enslaving the women/girls in those monstrous Saudi-veil, and rob the OIL-RICH non-Arabic Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and in the future, Syria and Lebanon! But hey, these racist Western mainstream medias don't give a care about the enslaved women especially since they're not Western and that non-Westerners only deserve Jihadists for their 'democratic' rulers. This include destroying completely Kofi Annan peace plan despite that Assad has agreed to it, including by staging rebel attacks which include the use of child-soldiers, to make it ook like Assad started it and then call it Assad's massacre including supposedly killing of the children who were the rebels’ child-soldiers, in order to sabotage the peace plan. Now, as in Iraq, 'weapons of mass destruction' is the dirty game being played now by that most savage Jihadist/War Criminal/Dictator of all, Barack Hussein Obama!

    • mah29001

      Excuse me, but if Assad goes, how the hell would that help Israel? Syria will be under the country of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.

  • Matt

    Well everyone likes to blame someone for what is going on in Syria. The facts are he should pardoned the kids over the anti-regime graffiti over food prices, instead of torturing and killing them and reprimanded the officers involved . Instead the regime decided to kill the people protesting about it, then the people attending the funerals for those killed protesting over it. He was a bad leader that did not pay attention to what was going on in his own country. There is no conspiracy in relation to Syria, just a bad leader who pays no attention to what is going on and delegates the running of the country to others who misjudged the situation. What was the cause of the uprising, that it had in fact started, he would not have been aware of at the time. Until after the fact.

  • Soloview

    There is nothing new in Syria that has not been amply demonstrated in the Balkan wars of the nineties. Rebels attacking in heavily populated areas to collect max civilian casualties for the propaganda war, the government using paramilitaries to intimidate and deny it is engaged in a "dirty war", carefully staged atrocities claimed by both sides to be the work of the murderers on the other side. Hillary is just as clueless as to what is going on and what needs to be done as was Madeleine before her. Stop the flow of weapons into the country: nothing of value to us can be done until the stupid model of toppling governments without clear commitment by the rebels to a new, civilized standard of governance is abandoned. This cannot be done if either side sees a military victory as the only solution and Libya as precedent.

  • Ricky Michael

    It's just more of the same old thing to me. That culture over there understands only the use of force. It is ruled with an iron hand and intolerance toward themselves and anyone who does not support their views. Within their own ranks, they can't even agree. We need to stay the heck out of there. Let them continue to do their thing, kill one another.

  • UCSPanther

    I think Assad has been running scared for a while. He lost four of his Lieutenants in that bomb blast, and it appears the rebels have been gaining the upper hand.

    What will happen next is anyone's guess, but Assad could very well share the same fate as Gaddafi.

    • davidhorowitz

      Even as the neo-cons try to protect him.

  • YLEM

    I just finish watching "Rumors of WWIII" a documentary that is on GBTV and it frightened the sh-t out of me. There are interviews with top military officials who lay out the danger we are facing. Go to GBTV and join for one month, you'll pay an extra 5 bucks to watch the video…all for about $9. Less than a movie. You must see this!! Invite your friends, neighbors and family over so that they can watch it too. I'm telling you, this frightened me and I thought I already understood the dangers of Islam. Not even close.

  • Flowerknife_us

    There is no one good in power, there is no one good to take over power. Take Iraq for example. It does not seem to matter who is in charge. The killing just goes on and on. The body count between Iraq and Syria are running a close race.

    The last thing the West needs is to allow the formation of an organized political structure within Islam. Bringing "democracy" to the Middle East has managed to introduce every possible fissure in nearly every Country. Rather than continually having some great need to solve the problems of their own making. throw Salt in the wounds. To the most righteous go the spoils. As the Holy climbs the heap of the worthy or not, Islam will rule its own demise. May we be patient and wise or its the Infidels demise.

  • stevefraser

    So the Middle East in the last year is Obama's foreign policy?