I am not sure what to make of this Reuters report. It appears that Assad has declared war against his own people. In the context of a tribal war, one can say that the Alawite tribe has declared war against the other tribes in Syria. This is a very serious situation and I remain firmly on the side of the Opposition forces in this matter.
Over the past 16 months I have monitored the situation in Syria from time to time. The number of deaths at the hands of Assad and the Alawite tribe has been mounting during that period of time. I have no doubt that Assad has been lying on many occasions about certain massacres, especially when his army were shelling Syrian villagers without good cause, whilst he was blaming an imaginary Al Qaeda enemy for the situation. I have never felt that Al Qaeda was behind the situation in Syria, but I can see that it is probably that Al Qaeda could get involved.
During the civil war in Libya I took the side of the Opposition, and even if there were some who had links with Al Qaeda, I accepted the story of the people behind the NTC that they were trying to keep Al Qaeda out of the equation by insisting upon no foreign boots on the ground. From what I could see this strategy worked, but the conflict took longer to resolve than was expected. I continue to see no genuine evidence of Al Qaeda having involvement in Libya, but I am not sure about Syria because there were some bombings that were blamed on Al Qaeda.
On the other hand, what I am watching closely is whether or not there have been further defections from the Syrian army. Whilst I cannot supply the link to the story that I saw the other day, I note that there has been a defection by a high ranking army officer. This could be significant for the simple reason that when the defections really start then the writing is on the wall for the Assad regime. It could be that Assad is making these noises because he fears that he is about to lose his group over the country.
What does all of this mean on the world scene? Personally, I sincerely hope that something can be done to defuse the potential situation that could develop into another world war. What I see is that Syria has powerful forces on its side: Iran, Lebanon, Russia and China. The Russians have been attempting to ship arms into Syria to provide arms to Assad, but so far their endeavours have failed (at least that is what the last report I read more or less implied). Russia remains a powerful ally within the UN, making it difficult for other States to do anything within the UN to defuse the situation. China has once again joined with Russia in preventing any UN action. The USA at this point in time is very likely not keen to have any involvement in Syria. The upcoming Presidential election is one reason why the USA might be keen to avoid any involvement in this conflict.
On the subject of the USA and possible involvement in Syria, it must be mentioned that the President should seek ratification from Congress before making any further commitments in the region. There was a lot of anger over the limited involvement in Libya (no USA troops were on the ground in Libya and there really was only very limited involvement but the real issue of resentment stemmed from the way in which POTUS did not take the matter to Congress before agreeing to any action.). Some Americans remain under the impression that Gadhafi had somehow reformed himself, but that was in fact not true. Whilst everyone was sleeping Gadhafi had been busy arming his “friends” in Africa, including those in Mali who have been busy attempting a coup!!
The side issue here is the position of Turkey, and the escalation of possible conflict. The shooting down of a Turkish airforce plane is a very serious matter. Apparently the Syrians shot at a second aircraft. This is tantamount to the declaration of war. Turkey has taken on the responsibility of caring for Syrian refugees, including members of the Syrian military who have deserted their posts. Syria has been shelling villages on the border with Turkey, meaning that the conflict between the two nations could escalate at any given time. I have no hesitation in backing Erdogan if anything new was to happen and Turkey declared war against the Assad regime. Erdogan had tried to end the conflict within the borders of Syria, but Assad has remained stubborn.
My belief is that the conflict is really about the fact that the minority Alawite tribe have maintained their dominance over the majority of Syrians. The Alawites have been backed by the Druse, including Druse Christians. Since this is an internal tribal conflict, it remains a situation where other nations need to remain on the sidelines but the question remains: How long must we remain on the sidelines whilst Assad continues to murder his own people?