web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Syria: No Longer Revolution, It is A Civil War, A Guide to the Battle


Syrian protest in Hama 2011

Photo Credit: Syrian2011

The only honest answer to the question of what will happen in Syria is: No one knows. After an eight-month-long battle in which more than 3500 people have been killed, there’s no telling who will be ruling Syria when the dust settles, or even when the dust will settle. A regime victory is quite possible—perhaps most likely—and its overthrow might–but not necessarily–bring an Islamist regime.

But what do we know about Syria? Here’s a guide.

1. Don’t overrate Iran’s role. Despite wild rumors, the Syrian regime doesn’t need Iranians to help it repress the people. Iran is important as a source of financing for the government, but this is President Bashar al-Asad’s battle to win or lose. Tehran is definitely going to be a secondary factor.

2. Syria’s other ally is Hizballah, but the killing of so many Sunni Muslims, including Muslim Brotherhood people, has lost it Hamas. There is a sort of Sunni-Shia version of the Spanish Civil War going on now. But when it comes to the radical and Islamist forces on both sides there’s no good guy.

3. And Turkey isn’t the good guy. The Turkish Islamist regime isn’t motivated by some love of democracy in opposing the Syrian regime. The Ankara government wants a fellow Sunni Islamist dictatorship in Damascus, preferably under its influence. In this situation, Turkey is just as bad as Iran.

4. Will the two sides make a deal? No, this is a war to the death. The regime cannot make a deal and yield power because the elite would lose everything it has. Moreover, the government elite would face death, exile, or long-term imprisonment if it loses. Similarly, the dominant Alawite community and large portions of the Christian one (together roughly 25 percent of the population) risks massacre if the government falls.

5 . Will the army bring down the regime or change sides? No, see point 4. While some are defecting (see below), the high command cannot survive a change of power. Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia, the armed forces cannot usher in a new regime that would continue its economic privileges.

6. Is this now an inter-communal war? Net yet. There are hints of small-scale communal killings but if and when such a blood bath begins you’ll know and it will be terrible indeed. This outcome might be avoidable but the situation is very dangerous.

7. Is Syria now in a civil war? This is beginning. Defectors from the military have formed a Free Syrian Army. A nine-member Military Council has been formed including five colonels. Note the lack of generals (see Point Four) and all of them appear to be Sunni Muslim Arabs (see Point Five). They say they are going to fight the regime and defend the populace. But from where will they get arms?

8. Will economic collapse bring down the regime? No. See Points 1, 4, and 5. Nobody is going to quit because they get hungry. This is a kill-or-be-killed situation.

9. Is Syria going to encourage a war against Israel? No. Historically, Middle Eastern dictatorships have provoked war against Israel to distract attention from problems at home. The most likely scenario would be a Hizballah-Israel war, as happened in 2006. But we’re past that point for the Syrian regime (though a radical Egypt might try this tactic after 2013.) In addition, Hizballah is trying to consolidate power in Lebanon and a war would be very much against its interests.

10. Who is the opposition leadership? Ah, that’s a very interesting question. The best-known group is the Syrian National Council (SNC). It has announced its 19-member leadership group which includes 15 Sunni Muslims, two Christians, and 2 Kurds. Note that there are no Alawites or Druze. The SNC has an advantage because it was assembled by the United States using the Islamist regime in Turkey.

Given Western backing the SNC is surprisingly dominated by Islamists. Ten of the 19 are identifiable as such (both Muslim Brothers and independent—Salafist?—Islamists) and a couple of those who are nominally leftists are apparently Islamist puppets. The fact that U.S. policy is backing an Islamist-dominated group indicates the profound problems with Obama Administration policy.

It should be stressed, though, that the SNC’s popular support is totally untested. Many oppositionists—especially Kurds—are disgusted by the group’s Islamist coloration and refuse to participate.

The National Coordination Committee (NCC) is a leftist-dominated alternative. The Antalya Group is liberal. There is also a Salafist council organized by Adnan Arour, a popular religious figure; a Kurdish National Council and a Secular Democratic Coalition (both angry at the SNC’s Islamism);

It is hard to overestimate how disastrous Obama Administration policy has been. Not only has it promoted an Islamist-dominated leadership (which might be pushed into power by monopolizing Western aid) but this mistake has fractured the opposition, ensuring there would be several anti-SNC groups. This strategy has also angered the Kurds and Turkmen minorities who view the SNC as antagonistic to their hopes for some autonomy. As a result, these two groups have reduced their revolutionary activities.

The best source on these events is the exiled democrat Ammar Abdulhamid whose daily Syrian Revolution Digest is indispensable to understand what’s going on in the country. He writes that, despite U.S. and Turkish support, nobody will recognize the SNC as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people” because of its “over-representation of certain currents and under-representation of others, as well as lack of transparency in the selection and decision-making processes, not to mention lack of clear political vision and transitional plans.”

Again, it should be stressed that in terms of actually directing the rebellion, there is no leadership.

11. So who do we want to win? Despite the threat of a Sunni Islamist regime, I hope that Asad will be overthrown. Why? If the regime survives we know it will continue to be a ferociously repressive dictatorship, allied with Iran, and dedicated to the destruction of U.S. and Western interests, the imperialist domination of Lebanon, wiping Israel off the map, and subverting Jordan.

With a revolution, there is a chance — especially if U.S. policy doesn’t mess it up — for a real democracy that is higher than in Egypt. In Syria only 60 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim and thus might be potential recruits to be Islamist. The minorities—Alawite, Christian, Druze, and Kurdish—don’t want an Arab Sunni Islamist regime.

As for the Sunnis themselves, they are proportionately more urban, more middle class, and more moderate than in Egypt. Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular have never been as strong in Syria as in Egypt. In Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the Islamists face what is largely a political vacuum; in Syria they have real, determined opposition.

Today, the Syrian people have two major enemies blocking the way to a moderate stable democracy. One is the regime itself; the other is the U.S.-Turkish policy that is determined—naively for the former; deviously deceitful from the latter—to force a new repressive Islamist regime on the Syrians.

This article first appeared in

.

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Syria: No Longer Revolution, It is A Civil War, A Guide to the Battle”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
4 yr old Israeli Daniel Tregerman, murdered by Hamas rocket on Aug. 22, 2014.
IDF: Israeli Toddler Murdered by Rocket Fired Near UNRWA School/Shelter
Latest Sections Stories
Teens-082214

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

Twenties-082214-Girls

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

Lewis-082214-Gaon

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

Astaire-082214-Main

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

“I didn’t choose the landscape; it chose me.”

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

More Articles from Barry Rubin
Youssef Ziedan

The interviewer responds, “There was also Balfour.”

peace_clowns

If the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria.

A large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews.

Does anyone think the Palestinian Authority will resist daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals?

Secret Service security arrangements were overruled.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/syria-no-longer-revolution-it-is-a-civil-war-a-guide-to-the-battle/2011/11/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: