Published on 24 Jul 2012

Assad’s ‘iron-fist defence’ of Syrian capital

Yesterday it was Midan. Today it was al-Qaboon. In both the picture is pretty clear, that any rebel fighters in these areas have been driven from them. This is a comprehensive victory of the Assad Regime in its own backyard and capital.

The crackling of automatic fire, the crumbling explosion of incoming shellfire, the helicopter gunships quartering the city and firing machinegun bursts – all those sounds have gone pretty much from Damascus today. Replaced by the rather more prosaic hooting of car-horns.

Every now and then army trucks packed with cheering soldiers pass up the city’s main boulevards. It is not a good idea to film one of the world’s most secret armies – even in their moment of triumph.

When you spend any time in places like Midan and al-Qaboon among the rubble and debris, it seems hard to appreciate that just a week ago some excitable reports were predicting this was the final moment for President Assad.

Now the government will take great confidence from the iron-fist defence of the capital and will not be overly worried about the cost in terms of hearts and minds. This is about power. The maintenance of power. The demonstration of power. The use of power.

Picture gallery: Alex’s pictures of the civil war gripping Syria

My judgement is that, far from this last week being any meaningful kind of “tipping point” for the regime, this civil war will continue indefinitely until one of three critical conditions is met. Until then, you will not see the Syrian Army run ragged by fighters armed with little more than Kalashnikovs.

Condition One: Syria’s international backers who supply the arms and the money decide to turn off the tap – primarily we are talking Moscow here but also Teheran as well.

Condition Two: the defection rate in the army becomes strategically pivotal and the command and control mechanism of the armed forces can no longer function.

Condition Three: the politburo surrounding President Assad decides that his position has become untenable and makes its move.

Until any of the above conditions is met, you are not going to see a great deal changing I suspect. It is true the Free Syrian Army is gaining ground in the countryside and the control of some border crossings could become strategic in terms of allowing heavier arms to enter the country.

But this is all a grindingly slow process. We know that none of the critical conditions has yet been met. What we do not know is how near any of them might be to being met.

And it is quite clear that the regime has just had, in Damascus, the biggest boost to its morale in sixteen months of violent civil war.

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4 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Alex,

    You forgot

    CONDITION FOUR: Other Gulf states and the Americans, British and French stop their material, manpower and mainstream media propaganda support for “the rebels.”

    Back here in the United Kingdom of Amnesia, TV news coverage has become so bad and one sided it is downright evil. You have to see it to believe it.

    Stay safe.

  2. Hariprasad Bhusal says:

    The so called revolution taking place in Syria is absolutely untimely and most unexpected. Mr.Bashar al-Assad has been appointed/elected with Military support to rule upto 15th May 2014.After that only anybody, if Mr. Assad so wanted, think of change of govt.or democratise Syria. But it did happen in a wrong way. That is why the killings of all including children,ladies, old age people.The power may pass through the barrel of a gun but Democracy needs learning, educating the people so that they can vote tomorrow peacefully. Parties must be formed and the Constitution must be written,explained and the people should be educated so that they can develope patient for change peacefully with the support of the votes.

  3. dylys says:

    How about Critical Condition 4 – pressure is exerted on the countries supplying arms, communications equipment, bases, training, etc.etc. to the rebels / terrorists to STOP. We all know who they are. The pressure required can only come from the US/West. ‘Grindingly slow process’ ?? This could all be over very quickly if we wanted it to be. Undemocratic monarchies giving help to create a Syrian democracy. What a joke.

  4. Christian Syrian says:

    So what about those paragon of democracy regimes in the gulf and the western regimes supporting the drugged “freedom fighters” (gang of murderers), some of which also where trying to set YOU up for a nice shot to blame on the government, huh?

    As it appears, a clear majority of Syrians don´t want to be “liberated” to death by NATO directly in a “humanitarian” blood bath of via their death squads. Thanks to Russia China BRICS and the rest of the free world there hasn´t been no Libya all over again. When your regimes stops funding drugged bandits terrorizing the country the war will also come to a halt.

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