Monday, April 29, 2013

Authority First, Territory Second

The Syrian government is finally withdrawing to a core Syria as I figured they had to.

Strategypage writes:

The government appears to have accepted the fact that it cannot hold most of the country and is concentrating on the defense of Damascus and roads that connect the capital with the small Syrian coast (where pro-government Alawites are the majority). The government has organized more local militias in these areas, arming and equipping Alawites and Christians who fear retribution from victorious Sunni rebels. Iran has been particularly helpful in equipping and training the militias. The Iranian Quds Force has long experience in this sort of thing, having organized Hezbollah in Lebanon 30 years ago.

Quds is now busy in Syria as well. Rebels accuse the government of adopting savage new tactics in the fighting around Damascus. These new methods involve mass killings of civilians, especially military age men, during daytime raids into pro-rebel villages. This development is believed to be the work of the Iranians and their military advisors. This would be the Quds Force that specializes in this sort of thing.

That seemed to be what was happening and now it seems more certain.

Abandoning as much of Syria as possible to hold critical assets seemed the only route Assad could go when the rebellion got going.

And with more light infantry paramilitaries organized with Iranian help, the government is going postal on the areas within the core Syria boundaries to terrorize the rebels and their supporters. That's going to result in some pretty horrific casualties for the ill-trained and poorly disciplined militias. Whether these militias can hold up under this kind of use is a good question.

So I'm not sure if--15 months after I figured the Syrian government had to contract their territory--the Syrians have the numbers or morale to hold core Syria that includes Damascus. Assad wants the capital to retain the UN seat so that no matter how little of Syria he controls, he is still officially the president of Syria.

But if holding Damascus isn't possible, I'd think that Assad would transfer his capital to the Alawite region in the west and still be considered formal Syria's ruler.