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Regime Collapse
Assad Retreats Further

The Assad regime continues to falter in Syria as international actors continue to discuss its fate. The Times of London:

The Syrian government pulled back its forces from most of the Sahl al-Ghab plain, a strategic 40-mile-wide corridor. They now occupy a defensive line along the eastern edge of mountains that form the historical heartland of the Alawite sect.

The new front line puts rebel forces within striking distance of the city of Hama, to the south, and its vulnerable supply lines. Also threatened is the village of Qardaha, the ancestral home of the Assads.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote yesterday, the Obama Administration seems to be open to letting Iran fill the vacuum in Syria as it thinks there is no credible Sunni alternative, in hopes that Tehran will become a “responsible stakeholder” in the region. The Administration is also bringing Russia back into prominence in Middle Eastern diplomacy in a way not seen since the Cold War. Iran and Russia, Assad’s principal backers, for their part now appear more open to brokering some kind of an end to the conflict as well. As Joshua Landis, the author of the indispensable Syria Comment told the Times:

“I think the military situation is deteriorating for Assad rapidly. There is a general sense of an emergency and a looming defeat. […] Obviously the world powers are very frightened there could be a sudden collapse and that is why we are seeing Moscow, the U.S., Turkey, Saudi, etc. all putting their heads together. The great fear is a chaotic ending, that the international community will have no influence once the wheels come off.”

Well the diplomats better act fast, or they could lose their best chance to save Assad’s skin.

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  • wigwag

    Barack Obama; working overtime to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

  • georgsmith

    Obama better act fastest of all. Maybe he will even act — to save Assad — if the rebel forces have crossed Obama’s real red line and could defeat the regime.

  • Ellen

    Why is anybody working to save Assad? What a ludicrous strategy.

    Anyway, it’s too late, for the procrastinating Obama, and the calculating Putin, and the murderous Iranians. Assad and his Shiite mercenaries are going down. The rebels are now headed for the Alawite heartland, which has no more strategic depth than Israel would have if it gave up the West Bank, which is why it won’t. The Alawite army is now completely collapsing and there aren’t enough Shiites who want to give up their lives to prop up a criminal Alawite clique and its Sunni enablers.

    Therefore, the worst-case scenario that people used to talk about 3 years ago – various jihadi militias preparing for the final onslaught on Damascus – is now coming into view. I wouldn’t be surprised if plans for this attack are being made right now. First they attack the Alawite heartland and Latakia, and force a diversion of troops and material from Damascus, then they attack the capital itself.

    Then, all those cynical, profiteering Syrians of all backgrounds who supported Assad on the grounds that somehow he was better than the alternative, will get a chance to test the truth of their proposition. I have very few crocodile tears to shed for those people.

    • Tom

      The problem is that for a lot of people, he was. Religious minorities tend to at least survive under secular-ish dictatorial regimes, while they tend to get hammered under religious populist ones. Let’s not kid ourselves, here: this was the Spanish Civil War in the Middle East, with little to recommend either side.

  • wigwag

    Revealed for the first time right here. Wendy Sherman has announced her plan to retire from the State Department. See,

    The Obama-Kerry plan to get Assad out of Syria; appoint Assad to take Sherman’s place. After all, Assad loves Iran almost as much as Obama does.

  • Lost in america

    There is no Sunni option.? I think Obama will work with his new friends Russia and Iran to find a graceful solution for the war criminal, Assad. Since Syria is overwhelmingly Sunni, elections definitely are not on the table. After Iran pushed the U.S. out of Iraq because of the Shitte plurality, now they want to make decisions for the Sunni majority. They do not care about barrel bombs, chemical weapons,etc, used on women and children. But protecting the war criminal, he must stay in power. It is so important that then even brought in Hamas and Hezbollah to protect Assad. Nice guy Kerry will be accommodating in negotiations. American thinking is that if you treat Iran nice, there is no telling how much they can help you. Iran has no business in Syria. If the Saudis can not make an impact on the discussions for the sake of the Sunnis in Syria, ISIS will be the Sunni option.

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