Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Concerns Mounting Over Possible Balkanization of Syria

Syria remains in the throes of a civil war, and there are reports indicating that Assad may be trying to carve out an Alawite sector of the country, essentially engaging in ethnic cleansing so that the Alawite minority can retain control over some geographical portion of Syria. They point to an increasing trend of sectarian attacks.

I don't think Assad's thinking about retaining just part of Syria. He's looking to crush the rebellion and retain control of all Syrian territory.

A far more worrisome possibility, particularly for Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq is that Assad falls and the power vacuum results in a jihadi safe haven from which attacks could be launched at all of Syria's neighbors.

Israeli officials believe it's just a matter of time before Assad falls, but they're concerned about the possibility of a failed state on its border and the potential influx of Iranian and Hizbullah influence:
The regime of Bashar Assad in Syria will not overcome the uprising against it, although it might survive for anywhere between another two months and a little more than two years, Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

Kochavi said that the Golan Heights region could turn into a theater of anti-Israel operations, similar to the Sinai Peninsula region, due the growing presence of global Jihadists in Syria.

Kochavi showed the committee satellite photographs of Syrian artillery batteries firing indiscriminately into urban populated areas. Kochavi said that the Syrian military is acting in a "brutal" manner, indicating the Syrian military's despair over the fact that it can't find an effective way to suppress the riots.

Kochavi said that the clashes in Syria are worsening on a daily basis, with 500 to 700 people being killed every week, and that the country is experiencing an accelerated process of Iraqization.

The chances of a war between Israel and Syria are low, even as a last resort for Assad, Kochavi said. Assad has moved many of his forces from the Golan region to Damascus because he is not concerned about a conflict with Israel.

Kochavi said that Iran and Hezbollah are preparing for the day after Assad's fall from power.
I've repeatedly noted that Assad has no problem engaging in war crimes, and Israeli officials note that is precisely what Assad is engaging in with indiscriminate shelling of civilians. Assad and his loyalists are engaged in a fight for their survival, and it means eliminating their enemies in the process.

Assad's fight is increasingly hitting closer and closer to home. The fighting isn't confined to the provinces of Hama or Homs; they're in his backyard. The fighting is now in Damascus suburbs.
Violence is continuing to spread across Syria and in the capital Damascus as rebels - now better-equipped and more organised - confront the army and government-backed militia.

The rebel Free Syrian Army said it had launched Operation Damascus Volcano, and has called for an escalation of attacks on regime targets and the blocking of main roads all around the country.

One of the biggest and most organised opposition groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, has called on all Syrians to join what it called a decisive battle.

Witnesses say the government's military deployment in Damascus is the biggest since protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule began in March last year.
There have also been video showing roads being blocked in and around Damascus as well as firebombing of vehicles ostensibly occupied by regime loyalists. The increased disruptions of life in Damascus is starting to take a toll there, but that only adds to the overall uptick in number of refugees flowing into neighboring Turkey and the numbers are increasing.

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