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.