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The End of Assad?
As Assad Digs Last Ditches, US-Backed Fighters Remain at 0

Bashar al-Assad is digging in around Damascus, reportedly having razed 500 homes and up to five mosques in a suburb in order to fortify the capital from a rebel attack. One of the neighborhoods is adjacent to an air base, and reports indicate that the demolitions have made room for embankments and moats. Up to 7,000 foreign fighters are said to be participating in a wide-ranging effort by Assad’s forces to regroup around Damascus after a string of losses around the country have put the regime on its back foot.

Few things are more visibly a sign that the regime is in mortal danger than its digging up its capitol for siege preparations. And yet, as a weakened Assad regime clings on, Reuters reports that the total of American-trained fighters participating in the fighting in Syria remains at zero. “We are certainly below our expectation on throughput,” Army Colonel Steve Warren is reported to have said. “As far as recruits for the Syrian train-and-equip mission, we’re satisfied. It’s the final step that we’re having difficulty (with).” 6,000 Syrians have volunteered, and 4,000 are still waiting to be vetted. Some 100-200 are currently undergoing training. The U.S. plan had called for training up to 5,000 fighters per year.

The sarcastic response would be to note that the United States government is the only organization in the world that could fail to find people to fight in Lebanon. It reminds one of the old saw, that if you put D.C. in charge of the Sahara desert, in ten years you’d have a shortage of sand.

Only, as you, we, and everyone not born yesterday knows, the problem isn’t a lack of available men who want to fight. The problem is that the Administration appears to be caught somewhere between, on the one hand, a desire to do as little as possible while making a pretense of action for political reasons and, on the other, a genuine desire to get involved but an inability to bite the bullet on backing the array of viable actors, who at present occupy a spectrum from soft-Islamist to ISIS.

But events are no longer waiting for us, and neither are other actors. The Turks and the Saudis have given heavy arms and financial backing to thousands of Islamist fighters, including al Nusra (the local branch of al Qaeda). These are the men who are pushing Assad to the brink, and who will be looking to shape a post-Assad Syria.

We passed up our chance to back the true moderates early in the war. The fact that the options now range from bad to worse was foreseeable, and largely of our own making. But even within that range of unfortunate options, some are much better than others. If the U.S. continues to vacillate, we’ll pass on much of our ability to choose even among those.

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  • CapitalHawk

    If you look at the main combatants currently fighting in Syria, the Assad regime is the moderate in the group.

    • זאב ברנזון

      the Assad dynasty killed far more Syrians Lebanese and Israelis then Isis
      no pity will be shown to him and his henchman
      isis cannot self sustain economically it will be destroyed internally by the arabs themselvs

      • CapitalHawk

        Sure they have killed more than ISIS, but then the Assad dynasty has had a few more years to rack up their body count. I’m sure, given sufficient time, ISIS would give them a run for their money.

        My point is that the Assad regime seems like the least crazy of the main combatants at this point. Of course, they are all bad and crazy, but relatively speaking Assad seems like the lesser of the evils.

        • זאב ברנזון

          in a battle between Muslim crusaders and the Arab pol pot
          i have no sympathy to any of the main protagonists
          the only people worthy of any sympathy are the druze and the Kurds
          and before you ask i have 0 sympathy for Arab Christians that invented this Nazi-communist hybrid system
          implemented by the Sunni minority in iraq and the allwaite shia minority in Syria

          • CapitalHawk

            If you care about Israel, which given your name I presume you do, then I would think you would want Assad to win. Does the Assad regime dislike Israel? Yes. But, they are also pragmatic. ISIS and al Nusra are not pragmatic. They are zealots. Look at it this way – if you put a nuclear bomb in the hands of Assad, ISIS and al Nusra, what would they do with it? My thoughts are Assad = use it to bully others/use it to stay in power; ISIS and al Nusra = Nuke somebody ASAP (probably Tel Aviv).

          • JR

            I think a bloody stalemate is the best outcome.

          • CapitalHawk

            Yes, absolutely.

          • robertmeerdahl

            like the iran-iraq war, better that these bad actors wear themselves out fighting each other

          • זאב ברנזון

            keep the UN and European pacifists off our back we can handle every thing else “in house”

          • Ellen

            Right-o. The Arab Christians bear a lot of the guilt for the murderous monstrosities of the Baath parties in both Iraq and Syria, as you correctly point out. That is why, much to their chagrin, even Western Christians who care about the survival of Christianity in the region of its birth, do not have much sympathy for the Arab Christians.
            They had only bad choices to make in the Arab/Muslim world over the past 100 years, between brutal secular totalitarian states and brutal Islamic states, so most of the rank and file choice emigration. It was their horrible leaders and merchant classes that stuck by Saddam and Assad, and now they are paying the price.

            The UN and EU are the other big criminals in the melt down of the Mideast. They created, endorsed and enabled the bloodthirsty Arab autocrats, all the while distracting everybody from this fact by whining about Israeli settlements. They should be forced to live in a settlement right near those moats that TAI wrote about being dug in Damascus. They belong in a moat permanently.

            As for Obama, he is the log that breaks the camel’s back. Under his grotesque management of US foreign affairs, due to a total misunderstanding of all participants in the ME conflicts (Arabs, Jews, Palestinians, Turks, Kurds, Alawites, and Iranians) he is now leaving this legacy of infamy for future historians to ponder.

      • Josephbleau

        Like Hamas in Gaza? Failure economically is no big deal to these folks. Hopefully Iran wil stop supporting them at some point.

  • robertmeerdahl

    can you imagine how the western media would go insane if Israel “razed 500 homes and up to five mosques” as a defensive measure?

    • CapitalHawk

      If an Arab is made to suffer and an Israeli isn’t nearby, did it really happen?

      • robertmeerdahl

        apparently not

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