Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Professor Landis and Syrian Summary

Joshua Landis has an excellent blog on Syrian events as they proceed toward some sort of terrible conclusion. Here's some comment from last Friday.
...Assad will treat Syria as he did Lebanon and Iraq earlier. He will gamble that it is not a nation and will work to tear it apart. Already he has withdrawn from the Kurdish parts of Syria. Friends in Aleppo tell me that Assad is arming the Kurds there. He will arm the Arab tribes in the hope that they will resist central control. I am told that a number of the tribes of Aleppo gathered to condemn the Free Syrian Army following the killing of a leader of the al-Berri tribe, Ali Zeineddin al-Berri, also known as Zeno, who was accused of leading a pro-regime shabiha militia group. Assad will arm those that fear the Free Syrian Army, such as the Aleppo tribes, which he has used to police Aleppo. As Damascus and Aleppo slip out of his control, he may well try to destroy them sooner than allow them to fall intact to the Free Syrian Army. Anyone who has ruled Syria knows that Damascus is its linchpin. By reducing it to ruins, Syria may become ungovernable. He will build up the rural groups that have chafed under Damascus’ control.

In order to survive, Assad and his Alawite generals will struggle to turn Syria into Lebanon – a fractured nation, where no one community can rule. He may lose Syria, but could still remain a player, and his Alawite minority will not be destroyed. Today, Junblatt, Geagea, Gemayyal, Franjia and other warlords are respected members of parliament and society. All might have been taken to the international court and charged with crimes against humanity two decades ago. After all, somewhere between 100,000 to 150,000 Lebanese were killed out of a population of three million during the civil war. When the Lebanese came to terms with the fact that no one camp could impose its rule over the others, they had no choice but to bury the hatchet and move forward.

Landis goes on to say that rather than suffer an aimless bloodbath of the Alawite 12% minority and their allies, Assad's inner group will attempt to play one group of Syrians against the other. Druse vs. Kurds vs. Christians vs. Bedouins vs. Sunni vs. Alawite et al. Meantime, Assad will retreat into the Alawite heartland in the mountains and on the Levant coast from Latakia to Tartus, which is the most beautiful part of the country. This will effectively cut off the rest of the country from the Mediterranean and spark new confrontations.

Just like Iraq and Lebanon, Syria is likely to see a perpetual round of bombs and assassinations and subsequent retaliations among the patchwork quilt of its many ethnic and religious pieces. And if that isn't bad enough, a victory of the FSA might mean the insertion of a civil war among the victors---note the letter/blog about foreign elements with religious agendas resembling Al Qaeda's crossing the borders from the Gulf.

Now that the feckless, useless UN has thrown up its hands and the cowardly Obama is afraid to put together a coalition of the willing, Syria continues to pay back the 40 years of Assad repression father and son have wrought upon Syria. It took Lebanon more than a decade and 5% of its population to die before the country collapsed of exhaustion and finally got a truce in the mid-'80s. I'm thinking that Syria has a lot of time and energy and with the support of a reckless power player like Putin watching Assad's back, exhaustion won't set in for years, perhaps.

Which reminds me. i recall the first time that I arrived in Syria via my auto in August 1974 at the northern border and saw a sign "Syria: Berceau de l'Humanite." Immediately the words jumped into my mind: "Et sa tombe."

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