Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another Such Victory

The rebels surely suffered a defeat in Aleppo over the last month as the government hammered them, but that doesn't mean that the Assad regime victory in the Battle of Aleppo will contribute to victory in the war.

This article claims the Syrian rebels bit off more than they could chew by trying to capture Aleppo, and that the Syrian government has pounded the rebels:

A MONTH after rebel forces launched a blazing attempt to capture Aleppo, Syria’s second city, they are starting to wilt. The regime claims to have routed them from their main stronghold in the Salaheddin district. Clashes continue in the southwest of the city and around the airport, but the best that rebel commanders can now hope to achieve is to draw the regime into a quagmire.

I won't contest the idea that the rebels took a pounding. Trying to hold ground against a conventional military will do that.

But Assad is the one who bit off more than he could chew:

I think Assad might be biting off more than he can chew. Sure, it is a big and important city with regime defenders to protect, but it is close to Turkey and adds more people to the defense perimeter of Core Syria than I think Assad has the forces to pacify.

Assad had to scrape up so many troops to fight for the city that he had few to hold the rest of the country, which in the east is falling to the rebels in the absence of Syrian security forces.

And now that Assad has knocked down the rebels in Aleppo, Assad has to find the troops to garrison the city of 2+ million people. Where will he get the troops to hold the city? Standard counter-insurgency doctrine says he'll need 40,000+ troops to hold that city. That's a third of the 120,000 ground security forces that Assad was recently judged to have available. Could Assad recruit local defense forces from Aleppo residents to be an effective substitute for all but a fraction of that 40,000?

Given that the rebels are disorganized, even a thorough hammering of the Aleppo rebels won't affect the other rebels in the rest of Syria--aside from the positive effect of sucking Syrian troops into the black hole of Aleppo.

Before long, rebels from the surrounding countryside will reinforce the Aleppo rebels and the fight there will continue.

Truly, another such victory will be the undoing of Assad.