With Senators McCain and Lieberman’s courageous visit to Antakya and their meeting with FSA commanders there, an important though belated symbolic gesture was made, but the situation calls for moving quickly beyond symbolism. Now more than ever actions are needed in order to ensure a timely defeat of the Assads, as only this eventuality can help save Syria from joining the ranks of failed states.
The Method in the Madness
Assad has two plans which are unfolding simultaneously.
Plan A calls for pounding, bombing, killing, torturing and maiming the way into reestablishing full control over the country. Failing that, Plan B calls for the creation of an Alawite State along the coast, while grabbing and ethnically cleansing as much land as possible from the surrounding plains in Idlib, Aleppo, Hama and Homs.
No matter how unlikely Plan B seems at first glance, the way the conflict is unfolding makes it a natural fallback position for a regime gradually losing control of most areas, but the coast, and gradually losing control of all but the most sectarian, fanatic and criminal of troops and militias. Unless a major anti-Assad rebellion takes place in Alawite communities in the coastal region, the region will act as an anchor for the regime even as it loses control over other parts of the country. In time, the coast will also serve as a safe haven for Alawites fearing potential retributions elsewhere in the country. In fact, for months now, many Alawite families who for long have taken Damascus, Aleppo, Hama and Homs as their places of residence, have been trickling back to the coast driven by fear of possible future developments. As such, Plan B may not have been a conscious choice but it is becoming a natural one. Soon, it might become the only “viable” option for desperate Assads, no matter how nonviable it may now seem.
Furthermore, and with Kurdish areas in the North and Druze regions in the South having effectively gained autonomy, and with checkpoints springing up all over the place, Syria has effectively become a broken state. The real challenge ahead is how we can save it from the Assads and put it back together again. The longer the Assads hang on to power, the harder this challenge will get.
With all due respect to Robert Malley and Peter Harlin from International Crisis Group, but their perspective on things Syrian has always been somewhat skewed. After all, these are people who believed so much in Assad’s reformability they ended up opening on office in Damascus in 2009 and kept it open until the early days of the Revolution.
It’s not surprising for me to see all those pro-engagement people turn into “de-escalation” supporters. To them, it seems, stability is a cherished value, while freedom, justice, and decency are nothing more than mere commodities, at least when non-westerns are concerned.
“Full and timely implementation of Annan’s plan almost surely was never in the cards”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director. “But that is not a reason to give up on diplomacy so soon. One should not repeat the mistake committed at the time of the Arab League-sponsored initiative: to expect its failure; rush to pull the plug on an unsatisfactory policy; wait for the emergence of an alternative that has been neither considered nor agreed. And then watch, as the killing goes on”.
But, of course, don’t expect failure. Ignore everything you know about the Assads, kill reason in the name of reason, decency in the name of decency and logic in the name of logic. Wait until Syria is nicely carved up into warning ethnic enclaves, then begin to seriously consider the possibility of intervention. That’s how you manage conflicts. You wait for crises to turn into full-fledged conflicts, and then you manage them to your heart’s content.
Kafarzeiteh/Hama: new massacre http://youtu.be/FXKEtmz2zkU Mourners taking part in one of the funeral are fired at http://youtu.be/zwrhanb5C-E
Anadan/Aleppo: injuries from the shelling http://youtu.be/tnryuQ4LVGA , http://youtu.be/LAKZmvSOOrI Al-Atareb/Aleppo: a child martyr http://youtu.be/H5rlfPgPZ3E Hreitan/Aleppo: the pounding continues http://youtu.be/Az6m1_4SJiQ Marei/Aleppo: plumes of smoke rise from the city as the pounding continues http://youtu.be/k5V6aeuc3FY
Homs City – the pounding continues: Qoussour http://youtu.be/XpR3xggUvlw Bayadah http://youtu.be/lNH6niyOQ0E , http://youtu.be/UsW5LuAyOQ8 Pulling bodies from the streets as the pounding continues http://youtu.be/KkUvepY10Po Jouret Al-Shayah http://youtu.be/EVh67xUdtoE , http://youtu.be/QN-vFxs6aSA , http://youtu.be/nr-B-6MsgfU , http://youtu.be/_pL42SvaKqc The Desolation http://youtu.be/_LE6tdvNClY , http://youtu.be/IbX9_2GHzuA Local members of the FSA hold a banquet in defiance http://youtu.be/5Nd20QJvXeI Khaldiyeh http://youtu.be/2peNYXm44cA , http://youtu.be/asdkMuZG_Zg Martyrs http://youtu.be/QObplvmZFEE , http://youtu.be/3HcGRwrhUuk , http://youtu.be/3v3_qqdMF2o , http://youtu.be/XyRKOlGxwkc , http://youtu.be/QkDTFVR0EHI Qarabees: an entire building is brought down by the pounding http://youtu.be/rRtQvfkKPbY
Local activist Khalid Abou Salah shows how the regime is abiding by Annan’s Plan http://youtu.be/Lokoi75IHrY , http://youtu.be/FWLDkvCqUsU
But it’s not all about pounding and killing, peaceful protests are still the main hallmarks of the resistance:
Homs City (Al-Malaab) http://youtu.be/mzPWjJqms0s Deir Ezzor City http://youtu.be/5PLHHYm2aGA Albou Kamal http://youtu.be/IxTwQmSUScU Seri Kanye http://youtu.be/_WSaS8OkDT8 Hassakeh City (Ghuweiran) http://youtu.be/AlPxJPZYxjA Anadan http://youtu.be/NikvCynmNtI Kobani http://youtu.be/890yjY-quJ4 Hama City (Janoub Al-Malaab) http://youtu.be/5EBSFLQox6w Maaraat Al-Nouman (Idlib) http://youtu.be/Lj4EwRySZoc Daraa City http://youtu.be/7IyW7J3UuNU
Damascus: Arbeen (funeral) http://youtu.be/32zIDDWD_qQ , http://youtu.be/2usA9BxsACQ Kafar Sousseh http://youtu.be/FPryU3IkVZo Douma http://youtu.be/ZV0_NpQSyEc Barzeh http://youtu.be/KnmwY4n47ec Qarrah http://youtu.be/A3KMH3IZ9nI Zamalka http://youtu.be/w6boAK9YfQI Zabadani http://youtu.be/LGJe0d4wAns