If I Were Assad

The situation in Syria keeps on getting hotter. The West is bumping up the pressure on Bashar Assad, hammering him with so-called “opposition” units that the countries of NATO arm, support and supply well with manpower — mercenaries recruited throughout the Middle East and Africa. Most of the mercenaries recruited this way end up dying on Syrian soil — the government troops are successfully countering rebel attacks. However, the stream of “adventurers” is not drying up: The Western coalition countries are paying them big bucks to join the armed rebellion In Syria.

Meanwhile, the conflict is drawing to a close: NATO and its Arab sheikh allies have long been ready to intervene directly. Until recently, Western aggression against al-Assad was held back by Russia’s and China’s veto of the draft UN Security Council resolution supporting radical measures against the regime of the “bloody butcher” Assad, up to and including a military invasion. The resolution has now been adopted (and almost in Saudi Arabia’s original wording); the obstacles to the interventionists have been removed. All that is needed is find a suitable pretext to justify an invasion. A pretext is all the more necessary because they cannot run roughshod over Syria by pointedly ignoring world opinion: The issue has received too much attention.

Such a pretext may already exist, or it may soon: It is no accident that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was succeeded by Hollande, has again emerged on the political stage. Yesterday, he issued a resounding statement saying that Syria must be crushed at any cost, reprising what was done in Libya. Recall that the invasion of Libya also began with statements by the two “lunatics” (as they are called in European politics) — Sarkozy and Cameron, whose unbridled ambitions were cleverly used by Washington to intervene in a civil war on entirely legitimate grounds — as a state coming to the aid of its NATO allies, who were on the verge of a military disaster after several months of their war with Gadhafi. The Libyan scenario is playing itself out again today, and the same actors are taking the same roles they had in Libya. You have to say it is original.

It is also possible that the Americans are delaying the start of NATO operations in Syria so that Obama, who desperately needs a “small victorious war” to gain an edge over his rival, can use it in the presidential race. If the war is begun now, its outcome will have been partially forgotten by election day, or, conversely, it will have acquired a bad connotation once the initial euphoria wears off and sobriety returns accompanied by a “political hangover.” In any event, all of these factors will give Assad some time that he should make good use of.

What can Assad do under the circumstances? What would you do if you were in his position? A few very obvious answers to that question suggest themselves.

First of all, Assad would do well to destroy all of the opposition’s military units before they receive support from expeditionary forces sent by NATO and the Gulf states. There are relatively few rebels at present, and they do not yet have heavy weapons (artillery, tanks, air defense systems, etc.) other than those they have captured. When they advance, they rely less on their own strike force than on the unlimited opportunities to bribe Syrian commanders who stand in their way (as was done first in Iraq and then in Libya). The West and NATO need the rebels not as an organized fighting force but as a political movement that can be passed off as representing the interests of the majority of Syrian citizens who are oppressed by Assad’s regime (who there will count how many actual representatives of the “Syrian people” there are that support the rebels?). They will select some of them to be “a government of national liberation,” officially recognize it as the sole legitimate government of Syria, and then get an official invitation from a surrogate government official to intervene in the conflict.

The Americans used a similar scheme for the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. However, Fidel’s soldiers killed all of the emigrants landed on his shores before they even have time to form a government, much less establish diplomatic relations with the United States. That situation is now being repeated with Assad: He will be under a threat of foreign intervention as long as the rebels control at least an inch of Syrian soil.

Second, it would be good for Assad to clarify the question of who exactly is fighting on the side of the rebels and what percentage of them are Syrian citizens. I suspect that this percentage is small: We know that about half of all the opposition’s so-called field commanders are al-Qaeda section chiefs, and their units are full of Islamists from Egypt, Libya and other countries in Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, American instructors are working hard to recruit mercenaries from other “hot” spots” around the world, from the conflict in Sudan, for example. A situation is developing that resembles the first and second wars in Chechnya, where Mujahedeen from all over the Arab East, including the Gulf countries, fought on the side of the Chechen separatists; we even encountered negroes. Making clear who is fighting for the Syrian opposition could reveal what is really happening and point to the real actors, who are now bringing the world a new Islamic order at the forefront of American foreign expansion.

Third, Assad’s propaganda is clearly crippled. Al-Qaeda is among the rebels attacking him. It was the embodiment of evil not that long ago, but he is not exploiting it. It is high time he called the fight with the rebels’ a “counterterrorist operation,” displayed the bodies of dead al-Qaeda fighters, expressed solidarity with the United States in combating international terrorism and thus thoroughly discombobulated NATO’s strategists. Russian politicians successfully used that approach in Chechnya when the West tried to depict the Chechen bandits as “national liberation fighters against the bloody Kremlin regime.” But they failed. Maybe they will fail in Syria, too.

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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