Friday, December 29, 2017

Was it Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?

Assad's forces are turning their attention back to the west after exploiting the American-led anti-ISIL campaign in the east in order to extend Assad's rule to the east.

Have the non-ISIL Syrian rebels given up?

Syrian rebels prepared to evacuate an enclave in southwestern Syria on Friday in a surrender deal with the government, state media said, as the army thrust into the northwest - the insurgents' main remaining stronghold.

I've long worried that the rebels are a bunch of separate rebellions that are largely static and unable to effectively react to Assad's forces offensives that focused the small amount of mobile forces Assad has (at this point mostly Iranian-controlled or funded) on one victim at a time while the rest simply enjoyed being further down the list of targets.

Given the casualties and money that Assad has lost so far, how is it that the rebels are effectively defeated as the article assumes?

The government's gains across many fronts have ended rebel hopes of ousting President Bashar al-Assad by force.

If the rebels retain foreign support, they can continue to fight and increase the cost the government has to pay to win. At some point that price could be too much to pay.

And without ISIL as the threat to hold over his supporters' heads to keep his side in the trenches, will Assad's supporters continue to throw their sons and futures into the giant bonfire that the multi-war has become?

Is Hezbollah willing to keep losing huge numbers of fighters to keep Assad in power and to keep their Iranian paymasters happy?

Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia have high interest in getting the rebels and those who have backed them to believe Assad has won and all the rest is just mopping up.

If the rebels and their backers go along with this, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And when the rebels in the west are crushed, Assad will go after the Kurds in the northeast and the American-backed "anti-ISIL" Arabs in the east. Hezbollah may be able to beg off this campaign to remain closer to home in Lebanon, but Iran will still have their Shia foreign legion ready to go.

Assad doesn't get to say the war is over unless his enemies go along.

UPDATE: The actual Assad victory in the southwest was a small one:

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said 153 people, including 106 fighters, left the village of Beit Jin early Saturday toward the southern province of Daraa.

The Ibaa news agency of the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee said six buses carrying fighters and their families arrived in rebel-held parts of Daraa province.

And the rebels live to fight another day. But for now it is a good press release in the effort to portray the rebels as collapsing.