Someone asked me if the regime can subdue Homs in the two weeks the AL have given it. First, the Qatari FM was very clear that prisoners had to be released and the army withdrawn “immediately”. He emphasized that strongly at the post meeting press conference. The two week part refers to starting a dialogue.

But, let’s assume the worst, and say that the AL have given Besho two weeks. He will not subdue Homs in two weeks, nor in two months, nor in two years. It took the army one week to take over Rastan, a town of just 70,000, and that was when it could commit all its manpower to it. Now, the FSA has spread far and wide in classic guerrilla warfare fashion.

Let me tell you about the pattern of the army attacks; they start with heavy bombardments in the morning, with incursions for a few hours. By afternoon the attack will have petered out due to heavy and highly coordinated resistance, not just from Baba Amr, but from other areas as well, and the army spends the late afternoon pulling back. At night, the army is limited to fending off counterattacks from the FSA. It’s a pattern we’ve seen for weeks now.

The army is a paper tiger. It is a mess. Rastan was the first real battle they had to fight, and they let the FSA sip away. One heavy hammer blow will knock out the few divisions loyal to junior, and the rest will melt away, just like what happened in Iraq. But the political atmosphere to justify such a blow needs to be prepared beforehand.

It is extremely painful to watch the increasing death toll, on either side. To the menhebaks, even their own Alawite foot soldiers are expendable resources, to be used up like ammunition or barrels of fuel. And don’t think that the Alawite rank and file don’t realize that. They are growing increasingly aware that they are pawns and cannon fodder to keep the Makhloufs and Assads in power.