Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The beginning of foreign intervention in Syria

Today's visit to Damascus by Turkey's foreign minister is a watershed in Syria's modern history.

The visit marks the beginning of foreign  intervention in the country to install a new regime and alter the balance of power in the region.  Iran will lose its Syrian protege and Russia will keep its naval base in Tartous.

Turkey is a member of NATO but also capable of playing its own game; it can easily intervene militarily (with NATO's blessing) to help remove Assad while appeasing Russia. Its own prize will be stronger political and economic influence in the region and as a bonus more Kurds will choose to live in Syria rather than Turkey! Israel will cautiously play along if the new regime will be more interested in re-building Syria than recovering the Golan for the next decade or so.

If Assad and his brother are not assasinated in the next few months or  El-Qardaha is not flattened by fighter bombers, Turkey will surely want to establish an exclusion zone deep into northern Syria as a first step towards whipping the Assad clan into submission. The regime has some strong ground troops (essentially two loyal and well-equipped Alawite divisions) but no real air cover and the country can also be "invaded" from the sea and from the east. 

There is always a  heavy price to pay for foreign intervention and no wise and patriotic Syrian wants it. Sadly it is now almost inevitable.  Peaceful protesters and the smattering of anti-regime armed groups are simply incapable of putting an end to the regime's daily murders. Conservative Arab regimes and foreign powers, with their own political agendas, have seen Assad shoot himself in the foot and will now move in for the kill. Perhaps they will be motivated to do it before the economy becomes too much of a liability!

Why can't Assad do the honourable thing, save the nation and his own skin and just quit?


Anonymous said...

Philip, Not sure if I agree with u on Turkey's role or what is the agenda and outcome here...but I think Assad and his regime are destroying Syria by being such fools...it seems like it is what the west want for unknown reasons, mainly to keep the region on fire...the regime is and was so predictable, so either Assad fell into the trap and is doing exactly what was needed, or he is just collaborating and accepting to play this role...same thing that Khadafi did earlier or what Saddam did when he went into Kuwait exactly 20 years ago...the US and the markets need a big war to get out of the disastrous global economical situation, but I hope I am wrong and it is just little war games that are contained like July 2006! God Help Syria and the Syrians!

playwrighter said...

It's not that the regime is predictable, Anon. It's that Bashar has so few options. Syria's not rich, its weaponry is old, its mindset is still in the 50's. Things are happening so fast, it must be a blur for him.

Philip the Arab is right. Bashar should quit. But he won't...

Philip I said...

Anon & playwriter, thank you for your comments.

At the risk of over-simplifying 41 years of the Assad clan rule, Assad senior offered the West stability in Syria and relative calm in the Golan in return for hegemony over Lebanon, which the regime plundered for decades so it could buy off the loyalty of its Alawite clan and feed its vast security machine. It has had to maintain a strong alliance with Iran for its own protection but in return Iran expected the regime to deliver Lebanon to it on a plate, hence the rise of Hizbullah.

The victims in all of this have been the Lebanese first and Syrian people second. Oppression and corruption has increased dramatically since the Syrian army had to withdraw from Lebanon. As you say playwriter, Syria is not rich, so dog eats dog. The economy is now collapsing around Assad's ears and sooner or later his security machine will implode. Foreign intervention is highly likely if the country descends into chaos and Turkey would no doubt play a key role in such an intervention.

RT said...

Dear Philip,

I have read a few of your posts and I like the intelligence I see behind them. One point that seems to emanate through your posts is some sort of Alawite hate. Now I don't want to rush to conclusions and I didn't have enough time to read some of your earlier posts. So can you give your opinion on them?


Philip I said...


Not sure when you posted your comment and I've been offline for a while, so apologies for the late response.

As late as the 1970s, Alawite villagers were still selling their daughters as child maids to wealthy middle-class Sunni and Christian families in the larger cities. Most lived in abject poverty and some still do today. The Assad clan have done a great deal to redress the balance for a significant proportion of Alawites but have gone too far, especially in the last 15 years.

I certainly do not hate the Alawites or any religious or ethnic community in Syria.

Today, the Alawites who control the country's security apparatus and economy are their own worst enemy. The inner circle is stubborn, cruel and suicidal. I hate what they are doing to the country and if I could I would lock them all up in Arwad Castle for a few years then feed them to the fish.