The Syrian outlook continues to worsen.Latest update: Russia and Iran have been caught with their hands in the Syrian cookie jar. The U.S. Treasury Department recently exposed Iran’s efforts to help Syria evade international sanctions on oil exports, while Russia was caught shipping weapons to Assad. The WSJ reports:
American officials investigating the Iranian operation said it is designed to quietly ship Syrian crude oil to Iran, where it can be sold on the international market, with revenue going back to Damascus…This month, Cyprus intercepted a St. Petersburg-based ship, the Chariot, that was moving four containers of munitions bound for the Syrian port of Tartus, according to Cypriot officials. Cyprus eventually released the ship after assurances from its Russian owners that it wouldn’t complete the delivery, according to Cypriot officials.But Moscow this week confirmed the arms shipment was made.
With this kind of material and financial support, Assad hopes to keep his side in the game. Currently, the Free Syrian Army is reported to consist of just a few hundred soldiers; nor do they have the necessary equipment to fight a civil war. Meanwhile, the Syrian political opposition, mostly operating from abroad, is tentatively united, but lacks a clear plan and concrete support.How will regional powers, like Turkey and Qatar respond? Probably by arming the opposition. If so, we can expect the conflict to grow bloodier still and the sectarian passions ripping at what is left of the fabric of Syrian society will have time to intensify.For Syria’s sake, and the region’s, the Assad family and its closest friends need to leave. Via Meadia likes to see murderers behind bars as much as anybody else, but under the circumstances an offer of amnesty and a reasonable cash settlement seem in the best interests of all concerned. Perhaps there are some nice empty dachas somewhere on the Black Sea.