Tuesday, June 06, 2017

I Grow Weary of People Who Look for Reasons Not to Win

Don't assume there is an Assad-friendly stalemate in Syria. We can still defeat Assad.

Is Syria effectively broken up?

Syria, after all, is today divided into no less than seven enclaves: the territory controlled by the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons, and the Islamic State area. ...

The regime cannot now be militarily defeated, a significant success for its diplomacy and arms. But neither has it any clear road to victory. I asked one Information Ministry official about the future of eastern Syria, given the growing strength of the U.S.-backed SDF in the region. His response summed up the underlying reality of the regime’s current position: “We don’t know.”

The author at least recognizes that despite defeat at Aleppo, the rebels are hardly crushed.

But I think he over-states the security of the regime. After the tremendous casualties they have endured, I think that the regime could crack. Who knows what would trigger that?

Also, the regime territory is more fragmented than the author believes. It isn't just the rebel-held regions that Assad would have to reassert control over to recreate Syria as a political entity and not a geographic term.

That feudalism--if not overcome by Assad--gives America the chance to flip local warlords now fighting for Assad who both fear American power post-ISIL and hope for benefits.

The author also correctly notes that Russia only cares about securing the western part of Syria to have air and naval bases to operate in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

But Iran has incentive to push for control over eastern Syria to gain an overland supply route through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

So America can focus on the east and south--perhaps all the way to Damascus--where Iran has interests while minimizing Russia's appetite to resist our efforts to weaken Assad.