The tension that is building up in Syria will, I suspect, shortly reach a climax. I have never seen the Russians appear as adamant about their position regarding any country in the world as they are now with regards to Syria. Arms shipments and the threat of vetoing any security council resolution condemning the Syrian regime and potentially leading to armed intervention there, are all providing the regime with the diplomatic cover it so desperately needs in order to ensure its survival. The counter-revolutionary rhetoric, what with people citing dubious polls claiming Assad still has the support of 55% of the Syrian people, or horror stories of sectarian strife, are all reaching fever pitch and I suspect this is in anticipation of some new development that we can expect.
Obama’s latest statement condemning the Syrian regime and asking it to step down, and after such a long period of quiet, might be a sign from the White House for another diplomatic bout of thrusting and parrying with the allies of the Assad regime. Watch the Turks and the Saudis closely for further statements in the next few days, and probably another attempt to get something pushed through the security council. I don’t know how wise it would be to push for such a resolution with Russia guaranteeing it will veto anything and everything that might endanger Assad’s rule internationally.
On other front’s, al Jazeera is once again claiming that it’s signals are being jammed from locations in Syria and Iran, which I suspect is true as Gaddafi’s regime had also tried to jam the station’s satellite broadcasts. This is probably meant as a way to hassle to the station, which has been condemned by the Syrian regime and those who sympathise with it that it is now merely a propaganda channel. Ultimately, it is unlikely that any foreign intervention in Syria is going to take place any time soon, and even if it does take place, I’m not so sure how much better it will be for the country.
The other alternative, civil war, is being played out slowly but surely. The so-called Free Syrian army has been mounting bolder attacks, and has been maintaining a stout defence in Homs, the heartland of the Syrian revolution, as well as in the Zabadani and Madaya suburbs of Damascus more recently. It’s not clear how much longer they can maintain this, but I think the steady trickle of defections that are happening could start turning into an avalanche if this situation continues. On another front, the Syrian currency has recently sunk to a jaw-dropping low of 70.5 Syrian pounds to the dollar. Any more than that and the Syrian economy will start to go into free-fall.
I think all this discussion and condemnation of international intevention is a moot point. If this situation continues the way it is any longer, without one side trying to end the stalemate in its favour, then this regime could implode. Hezbullah daren’t get itself embroiled into a Syrian civil war and stretch itself with Israel lurking just south of the border, and Iran, with all its enthusiasm, is too far from Syria to do anything more than token support and advice. We’re not going to see divisions of the Quds brigade airlifted to Damascus just to prop up Assad, though we could start seeing a bigger spurt of suicide bombings, explosions and assassinations. Still, the country is crumbling under the political crisis, and whilst Assad is preparing to dig himself deeply for a long fight, he might find himself a prisoner in his own palace, as he faces not just defected Syrian soldiers, but the economic influence of the wealthy, bourgeois, Syrian diaspora who are enthusiastically supporting the Syrian revolution.
In the meantime, the Syrian regime has utterly failed in crushing the demonstrations that have been the lifeblood of this revolution. I’m watching further demonstrations in Deraa, the town where this all started, on al Jazeera right now. At the start of the Syrian revolution the Syrian army carried out a brutal operation that was meant to punish the rebellious inhabitants, and yet the people there are now demonstrating again. Assad can’t impose his will on the country anymore, and there are few places where he or his father’s statues or posters are hung up without risk of defacement. If Assad does survive this period, then it will be as a warlord, and not as a president.