Assad says he is in a long war and admits he has too few troops to contest rebels everywhere.
Syria's conflict will be long and difficult and its army cannot be everywhere at once, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published by a French magazine on Thursday, in which he also vowed to remain in power.
I've said the latter for several years now.
And the former statement is a switch from those heady post-Kerry-Lavrov chemical deal days when Assad was promising he'd use the time bought by the deal to defeat the rebels by summer 2014.
Of course, despite repeatedly wondering about how long Assad's forces can endure their heavy casualties, I have to consider the possibility that the casualties haven't been as bad as the press reports have said.
If casualties aren't nearly as high as the estimates, that would be the simple explanation to my bewilderment about how much more can Assad's forces endure before breaking.
And I'm open to the possibility given that I was horrified at the ridiculous sky-high estimates of casualties in Iraq while we fought there made by and repeated by those ideologically opposed to the war.
Still, even with much lower regime casualties than published accounts indicate, Assad's ground forces have taken a beating. That's why Iran's Shia foreign legion and Hezbollah were sent in to be Assad's shock troops. Whatever the level, Syrians are feeling the pain.
And perhaps Assad is still hoping to use the chemical deal as a cover to win a fight that his troops can endure, since he is stringing out the process:
Syria must disclose documents about its chemical weapons program and grant full access to inspectors if it wants to convince world powers it has destroyed its entire toxic stockpile, U.N.. disarmament chief Angela Kane said on Tuesday.
Weapons inspectors! Weapons inspectors! Oh, goodie! We've seen this show before in Iraq from 1991 to 2003.
There is doubt about what Assad has despite the progress verified, especially given more recent revelations.
If Assad keeps doling out more revelations, we will keep seeing Assad as a disarmament partner. Keep doing this long enough and we forget that Assad is supposed to prove he has disarmed.
Saddam twisted an agreement after the 1991 Persian Gulf War that required Saddam to prove he had disarmed into one where Western inspectors had to prove he did not disarm.
Don't forget that this isn't Assad's first inspections rodeo. He knows how to work the system.
And Assad knows certain Westerners are happy to go along with the charade.
Heck, blame the Jews.
Assad is well on his way to achieving a twisted WMD deal that will shield him from as much Western action as he can manage for as long as he can manage--perhaps long enough to survive in his corner of Syria, defeat the rebels and push them into decline, and gain enough troops to eventually control all of Syria.
Really, it's scary how prescient my early post on the deal has been.
Note to our administration: That would be smart diplomacy.