This is an update of the earlier Syrian post. I think these two pieces supplement and bring up to date the ISW paper. First an article on the violence in Syria, which if compared to the white paper seems to show a continuing not accelerating level of violence. The bombings in Damascus would also appear to be part of a continuous ark rather than some large step, though I remain skeptical about who bears responsibility. The other Strapage article is a short discussion about the dueling use of orphans in sectarian violence, these boys and men grew up under awful circumstances and they tend to be easily turned into ruthless fighters. Another article the other day referenced the same socio-economic background for the Iranian Baij irregulars.
The scale of unrest in Syria has made it impossible for the regime’s security forces to simultaneously garrison all of the country’s key terrain. The regime has maintained control over Syria’s armed forces, despite limited defections. Therefore, the regime’s strategy has been to maneuver elite forces to key centers of unrest and conduct large clearance operations, using selective brutality in an effort to end the crisis.
The regime successfully suppressed demonstrations in Dera’a, where the protests began in March 2011, by conducting aggressive clearance operations. This allowed the regime to focus resources elsewhere as the conflict progressed.
Homs has become the conflict’s center of gravity because of its strategic location and its frequent sectarian violence. The regime attempted to quash Homs’ dissent in May, but emergencies elsewhere in Syria diverted attention and resources. By the time the security forces refocused on Homs in September, peaceful demonstrations had given way to armed resistance.
Despite large demonstrations in Damascus’ northeast and southwest suburbs, the regime’s security presence and targeting campaign has successfully prevented demonstrations from overrunning downtown Damascus. The size of the pro-regime population in Damascus has also contributed to dampening unrest in the capital. From the beginning of the uprising, the regime has deliberately consolidated its control over the Alawite homeland of Syria’s coastal region. Clearance operations in Latakia, Baniyas, and Tel Kalakh targeted Sunni enclaves and shored up regime lines of communication
Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club pointed out this paper and has a very good analysis of it and some other bits, such as this, 58 Foreign Policy Analysts are urging Obama to act regarding Syria. And the article has an interesting lead in picture…
Now the problem is, which is more important for us to do keep our powder dry ready to deal with Iran, Ahmadinejad (in gray) or do we use assets and energy on Syria, Assad (dark blue) which is the more important world issue? Hands down, right now it would seem that Iran’s nuclear weapons and delivery system development is. Whereas sad Syria is suffering the agonies of realizing that the Dear Leader, is wasting the majority of its subjects potential and that the only way to change that is to change the leadership.
Now some are asking why can’t we ‘do a Libia’ and I think the argument is that both the socio/economic and military situations are far more complex in Syria, the bad guy and his military are not utterly incompetent and the rebels are dispersed and often ambivalent about the use of violence. I think that the maps and the text show that the majority of the Military Potential of the Anti Assad camp have not become engaged.
- What happens if Iraq blows up as we go in and blow up Syria, and then we really do have to do something about Iran.
- Is it possible the Kurd, Shia, Sunni ethno religious cocktail goes cablooey.
- What if the Kurds get the bit in their tenth regarding a Kurdistan stretching across their ethnic foot print (Turkey, Syria, Iraq and I think Iran)Do the Shia try for Shiastan…and that means bits of Shiadom on the other side of the Sunni Crescent in Iraq and Syria.
- Do the Sunni go for an Emirate partnered with Saudi Arabia et.al.
Things could really go to hell…and they may be on their way already regardless of what we or the west in general want.