Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Zombie Syria

I did ask if Assad had the ability to decide Syria's fate in the face of Iran's rising influence and control. It's starting to look exactly like that. Syria as a sovereign entity is still moving and killing. But it is quite dead.

Some Syrians in the regime don't like being Iran's hand puppets, it seems:

The Assad regime has placed [Ali Mamlouk,] Syria's intelligence chief under house arrest after suspecting he was plotting a coup, in a sign that battlefield losses are setting off increasing paranoia in Damascus. ...

The role played in the war by Iran, Syria's regional ally, is said to be at the heart of the arguments, with some of the "inner circle" afraid that Iranian officials now have more power than they do.

Iran's influence has been crucial in bolstering Syria's defences, but even that has been crumbling in the face of recent rebel advances in the north. ...

Iranian operatives are said to have taken command of large areas of government, from the central bank to battle strategy. "Most advisers at the presidential palace are now Iranian," said a source close to the palace. "Mr Mamlouk hated that Syria was giving her sovereignty up to Iran. He thought there needed to be a change". Mr Ghazaleh is believed to have shared this view of Iranian influence.

That's it. Perhaps Iran's influence could be defended if the regime was defeating the rebellion. But as Iranian influence has increased, Assad's forces have teetered on the edge and are unable to subdue the rebellion. This isn't selling your soul--it's giving it away.

Giving it to Persians willing to fight to the last Arab and looking away as the Iranians are "calling the shots now" in Damascus.

Is what exists on the territory of Syria even technically "Syria" any more? Or is it just going through the motions as some kind of undead country.

UPDATE: Is Assad's regime going to collapse, or retreat to a core Syria? Muir has written on Middle East military matters for a long time. His name came up a lot as I researched the Iran-Iraq War.

But what is Iran's opinion on Assad's options? Is President Obama truly convinced that a "grand bargain" can solve Syria even as it solves all our lingering Middle East problems?

Under that rosy scenario, the Iranians would take on the task of removing Mr Assad and his top security circle and assuring a smooth transition to someone who could negotiate a settlement on behalf of what is left of the regime.

Rosy? You'd have to be on your third day of a long-weekend Doritos-fueled bong-fest to think that!

President Obama issues the orders and Secretary of State Kerry carries them out? We are so screwed.