The consensus surrounding Syria has been that President Bashar al-Assad was on the defensive, but at least one U.S. general disagrees with that assessment. Marine General James Mattis—who is head of U.S. Central Command—said that with Assad gaining “momentum” on the battlefield, the situation will “get worse before it gets better” and that he expects the Syrian leader “is going to be there for some time.”What’s more, Assad—unlike Qaddafi in Libya—is not an international pariah. Gen. Mattis outlined how Russia and Iran are assisting their friend in Damascus:
Russia has provided Syria with “very advanced integrated air defense capabilities — missiles, radars, that sort of thing,” he said. Iranian support for Assad has included weapons and teams of experts that have flown into Damascus to provide intelligence and eavesdropping capabilities to locate and suppress opposition networks, Mattis said.
It’s still too early to tell how things will turn out in Syria, but it’s become abundantly clear that a quick and painless end to the Assad regime is not in the offing. If General Mattis is right, Assad could even be winning.