Opening the Syrian gates
Monday, 16 July 2012 09:22 GMT
The number of defections from Syria has been on the increase lately. Deserters from the government forces include men of varying military ranks and civilian positions. Even people who used to be close to the president — such as three ambassadors — have announced their defection. It could be rightly assumed that many more senior government officials are waiting to desert the Assad camp. The only thing that keeps them back is the fear of what might happen to the relatives they leave behind in the country. The government will, they fear, punish their relatives as a deterrent to anyone who has plans to join the opponents.
One of the latest defectors, Manaf Tlass, was close to the president and a former commander of the Republican Guards. He fled the country after he sent most of his family members abroad secretly. He had been sending them away over the past three months. After he sent his father Mustafa, a former defense minister in the regime, to Lebanon and then onward to another country, Tlass fled the country too.
Seemingly, the Syrian intelligence is no longer able to detect the secret plans of senior commanders and officials and stop their deserting. That is why the recent Friends of Syria conference in Paris had a high number of defected military officers and diplomats present.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the regime is slowly losing its grip. The weakening is also noticeable at the borders, which used to be tightly closed, and also in the system of meting out severe punishment to those defecting to the opposition ranks.
Hundreds of Syrians are sneaking out daily to Jordan or to Lebanon and then onward to Turkey. Food and humanitarian assistance are smuggled from Turkey to Syria. Soldiers and weapons are also smuggled in.
The border guards’ grip at the border crossing has loosened and they are no longer capable of guarding the borders. Instead they depend on the vigil of the guards of neighboring countries such as Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
What props up the regime currently are the Russian and Chinese vetoes in the Security Council. Otherwise, the opposition would have received weapons and trained fighters in large quantities. These have no fear for the Syrian army, which is preoccupied with quelling the daily protests in various parts of the country. If the Security Council would issue its approval to arm the opposition for a speedy and equitable solution, a number of countries would be willing to send revolutionaries to establish power in this country and drive out the forces of the regime or at least besiege the government forces. Without the approval of the Security Council, heavy military ware cannot be brought in. Turkey and other neighboring countries will also not permit it, which makes the situation more complicated. Only light equipment and a little food and medical assistance are now smuggled into the country.
The regime is besieged from all sides. The demonstrators have reached the heart of the capital city. Armed revolutionaries have been able to capture some interior regions. The city of Deir Al-Zur, for instance, is under the control of the opposition that has already appointed a police chief to the city, while the regime has lost control of the borders with Turkey and Lebanon.
It seems that more senior officials are getting ready to defect. In his weakness, Assad has reached a point of wishing for the return to previous political initiatives, although he was responsible for their failure in the past. His diplomats are now keen to say that he would accept Kofi Annan’s first initiative, though it no longer exists.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.