What to make of the situation in Syria? Who are these opposition forces? During the whole of the conflict I have seen absolutely nothing about those opposed to Bashar al-Assad. I am not prepared to go all doom and gloom because I actually see no real difference if there is a changing of the guard, except that they might move away from Iran as an ally. The difficulty that I have is based upon the tribal make-up in Syria and in particular the role of the Druze within the conflict. Members of the Druze clan are in fact Christian and what bothers me the most is that they have supported Assad.
I am not going to take the approach that a change will see more bloodshed for Christians in Syria. In fact I am going to state the obvious, that will happen during a period where there is a seeking of revenge. By backing Assad those Druze Christians have sealed their own fate in any further conflict. In other words “if you sleep with dogs you will wake up with fleas”.
I am looking beyond what might be obvious Islamist connections for the moment to the world scene because the outcome of this particular conflict could help shape further conflicts in the Middle East. This is why I keep emphasizing the roles of both Iran and Russia. Those roles are important.
The Alawites are a form of Shia, but they are in fact a minority within Islam. The Assad family have aligned themselves with both Iran and Russia. Iran has been sponsoring Syria, and Syria has been sponsoring Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as Hamas in the Gaza strip. Can you see how that works.
What do we know about the opposition? The most I can glean is that the oppostion consists of people who are Sunni, as well as other Islamists, including the Syrian form of Muslim Brotherhood. Is that a red flag about the opposition in Syria? I do not know because how can you easily swap one form of terrorism for another form of terrorism? The Sunni Syrians appear to be aligned to the Iraqi Al Qaeda. From what I have gleaned it is claimed that many of these same Syrians crossed the border into Iraq and fought against the Americans. However, such statements are often made without evidence. What I do know is that there are Sunni involved in the conflict. I also know that Syrian military under the direction of Maher Assad have been killing innocent villages, and to this I add that Maher has ordered the death of any soldiers who will not fire upon these innocent villagers. In this sense the activity of Assad is no different from the attempts by Gadhafi to try and crush a rebellion. There are other similarities because Gadhafi used foreigners to inflict punishemnt about Libyans especially in Benghazi where the strife began in the first place. and Assad has used the Iranian Quds force for the same purpose. On top of that there is the level of the language being employed to call those opposed to Assad thugs and similar names.
After more than 16 months of struggle it appears that the Assad regime has reached the point of “the beginning of the end”. There is a civil war in Syria, and Damascus is finally feeling some of what Syrians in other parts of that country have experienced over the past 16 months. Perhaps the tables are turning. This can only happen if there are massive defections and a willingness of those who are still in their jobs to inflict harm by whatever means possible.
Thus we hear that there has been a large explosion in the heart of Damascus, and that several men at the top have either been killed or injured. Among the dead is the brother in law of Assad, as well as one of his top defence chiefs. What we do not know is whether or not either Maher Assad or Bashar al-Assad were present when the explosion took place. The only other thing to emerge about this story is that two groups, The Syrian Free Army and an Islamist group have claimed responsibility. Perhaps they worked together to get the bomb into the room. It is believed that there were two bombs, one in a box of chocolates and the other in a pot plant. I guess we have to wait for all details to emerge, because reporters are not allowed in the country.
Whilst I am not pre-occupied about the religious make-up of this opposition, I remain pre-occupied with the implications of any regime change. Since Russia, China and Iran have been supporting Assad, will a change in regime make a difference? Will a new regime automatically form an alliance with Iran, Russia and China, or will it seek to form an alliance with the west? I think that this is a difficult question. It is not one that I see can be easily answered.