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Is It the Endgame For Syria’s Assad?

Is It the Endgame For Syria’s Assad?

After 20 months, the opponents of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have gained the upper hand, or so recent events could suggest. In November, opposition forces captured at least five of the regime’s army bases, giving them access to anti-aircraft missiles, tanks and large artillery and, even more, territory in key areas including Syria’s second largest city, Aleppo. The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, has said that the Syrian regime could collapse at “any time.”

Jihad Makdissi, formerly the spokesman for Syria’s ministry, is reportedly on his way to the U.S., according to the December 1st Guardian. He would be the most senior Christian official to defect from (or to have been sacked by) Assad’s regime.

In addition, on a visit to Turkey’s capital, Ankara, on Monday, Russian president Vladimir Putin came the closest yet to admitting second thoughts about supporting its long-time ally Syria. Putin said that Russia is “not enrolled as the current defender of Syria.”

Signs of Assad’s Regime Growing Desperate?

The government of Bashar al-Assad still has control of part of Aleppo and the capital of Damascus, along with other key locations. But other recent events suggest that the Assad regime is finding the walls closing in on it.

Commenting on last weekend’s internet blackout, Jillian C. York compares it not to the one in Egypt before the fall of Hosni Mubarak but to a shutdown in Burma in 2007 that was “an apparent attempt to prevent information from reaching beyond the country’s borders.” The blackout in Syria suggests that the conflict has entered a new phase, writes York: “As one commentator pointed out on Twitter, the Syrian government’s brutal attack on the city of Hama in 1982 was also preceded by an information blackout.”

CNN has reported that the Syrian regime has started to mix chemicals that can make neurotoxic sarin gas to use against opposition forces. President Barack Obama has issued a warning to Syria against using chemical weapons against its own people as “unacceptable” and sure to result in “consequences.”

Out of fears that Assad’s forces could use deadly chemical agents, NATO has taken the long-awaited step of allowing Patriot anti-missile batteries to be deployed along Turkey’s border with Syria. NATO ministers meeting in Brussels have said they have “unanimously expressed grave concerns” regarding the use of chemical weapons.

The United Nations has cited the “prevailing security situation” as one reason that it is in the process of withdrawing all non-essential staff from Syria; the European Union has said that it is also reducing its operations. Out of 100 U.N. foreign staff, some 25 are being removed and those remaining will be “on standby” to be withdrawn to safety. Two U.N. staff members have been injured when caught in crossfire between regime and rebel forces and humanitarian aid convoys have been attacked and had their supplies or vehicles hijacked.

The conflict in Syria cannot be resolved too soon. Violence and the humanitarian crisis show no sign of abating. Just on Tuesday, a number of school children — state news agency SANA says 28 along with a teacher while anti -government activists say nine — were killed in a mortar attack; both sides have blamed each other.

Related Care2 Coverage

Syrian Government Cuts Off Internet Access

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67 comments

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6:27AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:26PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

I think if you're going to base your understanding of the Syrian crisis on intermittent care2 'updates', it might make for a tenuous grip on reality.

9:04PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

I soon hope there is peace.

6:37PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

cont...

The truth of Hama was horrific enough (I visited it not long afterwards, something I will never forget), there is no need to seek to embellish it. So, if you hear stories of chemicals in Hama in 1988, that is something you can genuinely refute.

6:36PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Dave G. - I can understand your cynicism. Saddam's chemical attack on Halabja happened in 1988, but this was never used as a reason for war against Iraq. During Gulf War 1, it was only a concern as regards whether Saddam might use them against western forces. In the lead up to Gulf War 2, Bush 2 suddenly dragged this up as a pretext to whip up war-fever for an attack he had planned since before he ran for president, even though the rest of the world were convinced the weapons had been destroyed.

Syria DOES have chemical weapons, though. And the regime has always been prepared to use them, even against their own people, but only as a last resort, if their overthrow was imminent. They will do anything to stay in power, and they don't care who or what they destroy in the process. Do I believe these pictures we are seeing on our TV screens of missiles supposedly filled with chemicals? Not necessarily - I'm a bit cynical about their veracity. But I have no doubt he would be prepared to use them if he is finally in a corner.

However, I gather some reporters are trying to develop stories that his father, Hafez, used chemical weapons during the Hama massacre in 1988. I can categorically say that he did not, the regime was not about to collapse at that time, and the brutal bombardment, the flattening of most of the city, and the loss of some 40,000 lives in 10 days brought an end to the rebellion. The truth of Hama was horrific enough (I visited it not long afterw

12:58PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Huh... Nerve gas, eh? Haven't we been down this path before, and not so terribly long ago? And how did that work out for the dispenser of said nerve gas against his own people (the Kurds)?

I rest my case...

7:16PM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Hope the matter is settled soon and there can be some peace and stability in the region.

3:52PM PST on Dec 7, 2012


Imagine

Give Peace a Chance

11:39AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Thanks

10:12AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Thank you Kristina, for Sharing this!

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