Monday, December 31, 2012

Preparing to Die in His Bunker

Assad's air force is eroding and his army is burning. When his supporters and army need Assad to be out there in public--despite risk of being attacked by rebels-- rallying his troops to fight and his people to stand firm, Assad instead gives off the air of doom by hiding to avoid being killed by rebel snipers or bombs. When his supporters and troops fear resisting the rebels more than they fear disobeying orders from Assad, Assad will die in his bunker.

For now, Assad is still issuing orders from his bunker:

Heavy fighting raged on the outskirts of Damascus on Monday as elite troops backed by tanks tried to recapture a strategic suburb from rebels in one of the largest military operations in that district in months, opposition activists said.

But any local success comes at the price of stripping forces from other areas where rebels can make gains.

And Assad's forces are eroding and will reach a breaking point before too long. Armies break before they are destroyed:

The rebels, and many outside observers, see the Assad government as losing ground and combat power daily. More and more Assad supporters have fled to Damascus and western Syria (the sea coast area where Alawites are the majority). Those in Damascus feel they are doomed, as the airport increasingly comes under rebel fire and will likely be closed soon. Land routes are dangerous, and those will be closed by rebels eventually. The Syrian security forces are shrinking from casualties and desertions and there are few reinforcements. ...

On November 29th, the air force made its biggest daily effort ever, carrying out 60 attacks in 24 hours. Before that, the number of daily attacks had averaged 20 a day for and had stayed at that level for months. The daily sortie rate has since declined to ten or less a day. Aircraft losses, plus shortages of fuel, bombs and reliable pilots has contributed to this. Air bases are increasingly subject to rebel attack. The Syrian Air Force is fading away and won’t come back while the rebellion continues.

On paper, it may seem like Assad still has much combat power. And in the figurative bunker (if not literally by now), all Assad has is paper and advisers too afraid to tell him the truth (assuming even they know the truth):

Basher Assad has become more paranoid about assassins getting to him. He rarely attends public events and is constantly adjusting his personal security arrangements. His family and closest aides are nearly as fearful and paralyzed by fear. All this says more than a press release about the state of the government and the failure of its campaign against the rebels.

Assad isn't saving himself. By failing to rally his supporters and military in a visible display of resolve even if it is risky, Assad is simply choosing the way he dies.

Unless Russia sends in marines (naval infantry, for them), which Strategypage says is aboard an amphibious ship ordered to Syrian waters, and paratroopers to bolster the morale of the surviving and hard-pressed Syrian ground forces (remember, there is no rotation for them--they're in for the duration or until they die--or desert), Assad's forces will break and run. How long will Assad issue orders to non-existent units before rebels close in on his last stand? Or does he go rabbit like Saddam Hussein did, dragging out the drama of his downfall?

I think it is time for a Downfall parody of Bashar Assad. Asma should worry about being cast in the role of Eva Braun, no?