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How Wobbly is Assad?

The defected Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab announced this morning that the Assad regime is near collapse, claiming they now only control 30% of the country. The New York Times, however, rightly cautions against premature celebration. It might be rebel PR:

Mr. Hijab’s claims about the weakness of the Assad government could not be independently verified, and he gave few details to support his harsh assessment. A Sunni technocrat from the eastern city of Deir al-Zour — which has been enduring shelling and fighting for weeks — Mr. Hijab was not a member of Mr. Assad’s inner circle, and he was appointed to the position of prime minister only in June.

That all said, it’s certainly not going swimmingly for Assad. Rebels claimed to have shot down a fighter jet yesterday near the defected Prime Minister’s hometown.

Aref Hammoud, an FSA spokesman based in Turkey, said Monday that the jet was shot down with a 14.5 mm anti-aircraft gun, not missiles. “Machine guns were used to shoot at the plane. It was in a low range, which made it possible to hit,” he said. “Those machine guns were captured from the regime army and God helped us to hit down this plane.”

Perhaps. Or maybe rebels used the MANPADs which we noted the other week were making an appearance in the theater. As Sami Nader, an analyst in Beirut, told the New York Times, the rebels may be lying in order to shield their international patrons from blame for further fueling the conflict.

As the fog of war gets thicker and the number of actors multiply in this tragic conflict, it’s getting hard to see what’s really going on.

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  • John Burke

    Let’s recall how many observers, including credulous journalists and various pundits, warned that the regime could be “36 hours from collapse” after the bomb attack that killed several top security officials. That happened on July 18.

  • Lorenz Gude

    Some despots are good at hanging on indefinitely, but I think the situation in Syria is too hot for that to happen there. By hot I mean the rebels and thier sponsors are not going to back off and Assad seems to be suffering real detections political and military while his opponents are well supplied and motivated. The situation is simply too volatile for him to stabilize. Even if he does manage a stalemate the Saudis and the Turks will pour more petrol on the flames.

  • Kris

    So far, Assad has a solid grip on power. His military can win convincingly wherever it focuses its forces. That said, I tend to agree with Lorenz@2, and collapse could be very rapid.

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