Peregrine flight

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Assad End Game

With the Syrian authorities now reduced to cluster bombing their own civilian population, targeting hospitals and releasing scud missiles on the general populace, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry is reporting that the conflict is increasingly turning into an ethnic war, pitting Sunnis against Alawites.
"As battles between government forces and anti-government armed groups approach the end of their second year, the conflict has been overtly sectarian," the commission reported.
Assad's government forces and militias, dominated by Alawites, have been attacking Sunnis while anti-government armed groups have been targeting Alawites. Other minority communities are also embroiled in the mix, including some Christians, Armenians, Palestinians, Kurds and Turkmen. Shia Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon are now fighting for the precarious Assad regime.

Today the Russians released a statement that seemed to indicate that they are looking for a country that will grant Assad harbor and end the conflict.

In a week where his Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov suggested that Assad's days are indeed numbered, Putin made some comments about his long time ally the other day that seemed fairly spot on and I rarely agree with the man.
"We are advocating the solution that would prevent the collapse of the region and the continuous civil war," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow. "Not retain al-Assad and his regime."To do that, he said, talks between opposing sides are crucial."First, people should negotiate, agree on how their participation would be guaranteed ... not first destroy everything and then try to negotiate," Putin said. Moscow stands for a settlement that would “prevent the country from breakup and an endless civil war. “Agreements based on a military victory can’t be effective,” he said. …“We are not preoccupied that much with the fate of the Assad regime; we realize what’s going on there and that the family has been in power for 40 years,” Putin said. “Undoubtedly, there is a call for changes. Without a doubt, change is demanded. We're worried about something else – what happens next. We don't simply want for today's opposition, having come to power, to start fighting with the current authorities, who then become the opposition, and this continues for ever."What is our position? Not to leave Assad's regime in power at any price, but to first [let the Syrians] agree among themselves how they should live next," Putin said."Only then should we start looking at ways to change the existing order."
Putin has a point. If the choices are a Shiite/Iranian proxy or an Al Qaeda proxy, is there really so much of a difference, at least for us? Both sides harbor a deep hatred for the west and a propensity to commit terrorist acts. We need to recognize that the next entity might even be worse than the present one. Learn from Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, etc.

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