Editorial: This is why Bashar al-Assad’s Syria will not fall
by Ghaleb Kandil
The recent developments in Syria revealed a series of important signs which will have decisive repercussions over the course of the global war led by the United States to destroy this country. Unlike the information and impressions of American strategists and their European and Arab accomplices - as conveyed by hundreds of media outlets engaged in the battle - the death squads, mercenaries and Takfiri groups introduced from all parts of the world suffered a crushing defeat at the level of the battles. Nonetheless, the Turkish officials and their Qatari and Saudi allies had promised – as they have already done last year and during the same period - that the month of Ramadan will witness the fall of the resisting regime in Syria. These illusions have once again collapsed on the battlefield where the armed gangs suffered the fall of thousands of dead, wounded and detainees.
Indeed, the comprehensive attack launched by the extremists against Damascus ended – even with the recognition of Western media outlets - with massive losses. Hence, the force which included local mercenaries and jihadists from around the world was completely annihilated by the Syrian army that is pursuing the remnants on the outskirts of the capital. As a result, tons of weapons were confiscated and the heavy infrastructure of the armed groups was dismantled and destroyed, which will require months to reconstruct if the armed groups are ever able to do so.
The outcome of the Aleppo battle on the other hand is known in advance, as the extremists are falling by the thousands in the face of the methodic progress of the army which was able to fully sever the supply lines of the mercenaries who came from the training camps led by the CIA in Turkey. Consequently, the armed gangs can no longer deliver reinforcements without having to pay a hefty price. As to their 4x4 convoys which are equipped with heavy artillery and were offered by their regional sponsors, they are moving under the fire of the army’s helicopters and aircrafts and are falling in the ambushes set up by the elite forces that have infiltrated enemy lines. According to experts, one third of the extremist groups are composed of jihadists who have come from the Arab Maghreb, Libya, the Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chechnya. At this level, European Union Intelligence Chief French national Patrice Bergamini recognized in an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on Friday 17 August the important role played by the jihadists at the level of the Syrian conflict, stressing that the Western public was now aware of the threat they represented. It is clear that the Syrian army’s cleansing of the city of Aleppo and its countryside is now a mere question of time.
The crushing defeat suffered by the armed gangs throughout Syria reveals that the Syrian Arab army which was built on solid ideological bases quickly drew the lessons of the war and developed strategies of urban and rural counter-guerilla, which allowed it to strike the extremists despite the massive military, material, financial and media means that were generously offered to them by the coalition of dozens of countries, not to forget the sanctions adopted against the Syrian people and state outside the context of the United Nations.
In order to understand the developments of the situation, it is also important to analyze the Syrian people’s state of mind. Without real popular backup –which is naturally disregarded by Western media outlets - President Bashar al-Assad and his army would not have been able to resist and deter this attack. This popular support is due to three factors. Firstly, the majority of the Syrians are aware of the fact that their country is targeted by a plot aiming at subjugating Syria to include it in the Western imperialistic camp and consequently remove it from all the regional equations, knowing that during these last four decades, Syria has been at the heart of the balances of power and that nothing could be done in the Middle East without its knowledge and participation. These wide popular factions are attached to their country’s political autonomy and are willing to fight to defend it, which would explain why thousands of young people are volunteering to join the army’s ranks. On the other hand, the experts believe that twenty percent of the public - which at some point sympathized with the opposition - discovered the real face of the extremists who are multiplying their savageries in the regions under their control (rape, executions, massacres, pillaging…). In light of this transformation affecting the popular mood, especially in the rural areas where the people have become sick and tired, the Syrian state has put in place discreet communication means allowing the population to inform the army about the presence of terrorists, which would explain how and why during these last few weeks, the special units and the air force were able to successfully carry out well designed strikes against the bases of the armed gangs.
In parallel to all the developments on the ground, Damascus’ regional and international allies are showing stringency and developing political and diplomatic initiatives to avoid leaving the arena open before the Westerners. At this level, the success of the meeting in Tehran between thirty countries, including China, India, Russia, nine Arab countries and Latin American and South African states, conveys this new balance of power. The formation of this group constituted a strong message to the Westerners and seriously jeopardized their project to establish – outside the context of the United Nations - a no-fly zone in the northern part of Syria. The last few months of 2012 will be decisive at the level of the emergence of new regional and international balances and the drawing up of a new image starting from Damascus, thanks to the victory of the Syrian national state in the global war led against it.
News analysis: Fast-moving developments
Until the American presidential elections which will be held at the beginning of November, the Syrian internal, regional and international developments will grow faster than ever before. Obviously, foreign military intervention whether from inside or outside the Security Council is off the table, while the sanctions have reached their highest levels as long as Chapter VII is being deterred by the veto right. Following the American presidential elections, we will see the materialization of American political headlines and especially NATO, Turkish and Gulf ones, in parallel to the repercussions that will affect the military machine used across the border and from inside the Syrian territories.
Hence, there should either be a recognition of the impossibility to introduce change at the level of Syria’s geography and role which should prompt preparations for serious negotiations and for political solutions – that are rejected by the Americans who are refusing to respond to the invitation addressed by Russia to meet - or sustain the war alliance and the mobilization of the state of hostility from all directions, i.e. from the Mecca conference to the visit of the French foreign minister to Syria’s neighboring states to assemble as many pressure cards as possible.
There will be no buffer zones and no air embargoes, rather efforts to completely isolate certain border regions from the state’s control in order to test the chances of establishing mini-states, similar to the ones established by Saad Haddad and Antoine Lahd under Israeli tutelage in South Lebanon. At this level, the wager is on Aleppo’s countryside to which all those who sold their honor among the dissidents will be introduced following preparations in Doha, Riyadh and Amman to grant legitimacy in form to the division project.
On the other hand, Lakhdar Brahimi was appointed as envoy and mediator for the political solution and the observers mission was ended to prepare the arena for all possibilities. Brahimi will thus spend time touring before a decision is adopted, while Syria is standing fast with it army and people and drawing up - starting from Aleppo and its countryside - the course of the upcoming change.
• On the field, the Syrian Arab army is continuing to pursue the armed gangs in the city of Aleppo among others. Moreover, the army freed the Syrian news channel’s team after it had been kidnapped by armed gangs. Videotapes were posted online, showing fighters in Syria throwing people off the rooftops of buildings, slaughtering a man with a knife and repeatedly shooting another although he was killed with the first bullet.
• Politically, Russia and Iran strongly condemned the terrorist operations being carried out by armed groups against the innocent in Syria and targeting media people, calling on the international organizations and the states enjoying an influence over the opposition to put an end to these operations.
• Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem assured during a meeting with UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos that the Syrian government was giving attention to the humanitarian issue, especially by quickly rehabilitating the affected areas and facilities to ensure the restoration of normalcy which was hijacked by the armed terrorist groups. For her part, Amos expressed her relief towards the cooperation achieved between both sides since her visit last March, pointing to the efforts deployed by her Office to get wide humanitarian support and allow Syria to confront this crisis in complete neutrality and autonomy and far away from any politicization.
• The Security Council issued a decision to end the mission of the international observers to Syria four months after the launching of its tasks, expressing support in favor of the calls to establish a political contact office in Damascus.
• Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi issued a decision to annul the revised constitutional declaration, appoint Counselor Mahmoud Makki as vice president, and send to retirement Commander of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Mohammad Hussein Tantawi, as well as Field Marshal Sami Anan and Field Marshal Mahab Mohammad Hussein.
• Egyptian Prime Minister Hicham Kandil praised Morsi’s decision to annul the revised constitutional declaration and regain the president’s authorities in full, while insisting on the respect of the law and constitutional legitimacy. In the meantime, new military reinforcements reached Sinai, while seven individuals are being interrogated after they were arrested against the backdrop of their suspected implication in the attack on the Rafah military post.
• A number of Yemeni soldiers were killed and others injured in skirmishes involving light and middleweight weapons near the Defense Ministry building in Sana’a. These skirmishes erupted between hundreds of soldiers belonging to a Presidential Guard brigade headed by the son of the former president General Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh, and joint forces from the army and the military police. For their part, the Joint Meeting Parties accused the former president and his son of rebelling against President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi and of not respecting the decisions he issued in regard to the restructuring of the military institution in the context of the political settlement of the crisis. They thus assured that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was trying to regain power by force.
• Lately, Israel escalated its tone towards Iran, hinting to the seriousness of the military option. The United States on the other hand downplayed Israel’s ability to strike Iran in a way that would annihilate the Iranian nuclear project once and for all. The papers thus quoted American Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey as saying that Israel could postpone the Iranian capabilities but not annihilate them, as the military estimates at this level have not changed. They also quoted Léon Panetta as saying: “Israel has not yet adopted a decision in regard to the attack and this will be made based on its national security. We still believe there is still plenty of time for diplomacy and there is a chance for Iran to benefit from this process.”
• The papers also tackled the request presented by the Israeli Defense Ministry to increase the Israeli army’s budget by billions of dollars in light of the security threats. They also carried statements by Israeli President Shimon Peres saying that Israel could not carry out a military operation against the Iranian nuclear facilities alone, mentioning the fierce criticisms addressed by people close the prime minister vis-à-vis these statements, as they assured that Shimon Peres forgot the exact task of the head of the state and that he personally opposed the attack against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
• On the Egyptian level, the papers mentioned the decision adopted by the new Egyptian president, as well as the entry of Egyptian military forces to the Sinai Peninsula without prior coordination with Israel, which went against the agreements between Egypt and Israel.
News analysis: The new sophisticated missiles of the Lebanese resistance
By Pierre Khalaf
For many weeks now, the Israeli officials have been threatening with comprehensive war by attacking Lebanon, the Iranian nuclear facilities and Syria in the hope of saving the Western plot against the latter from certain defeat. Leader of the resistance Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah responded to Israel’s threats. In his speech on International Jerusalem Day, he established a new equation based on a strategic, deterring and unprecedented strike. Sayyed Nasrallah thus revealed that the resistance had acquired sophisticated missiles capable of hitting targets the size of a dot in occupied Palestine. He also indicated that the resistance had a bank of targets and that the missiles were already directed towards this vital infrastructure, whose destruction will constitute a real catastrophe for Israel. Consequently, the Israeli losses will be significant.
The Israeli experts know very well to which targets and missiles Sayyed Nasrallah is hinting. His message was strong and was well received and understood, which will dissuade the Hebrew state from launching its aggression. A few sophisticated missiles that are ready to be launched could burn the heart of Israel and cause the fall of tens of thousands of victims and the displacement of two million people.
With each appearance and following the emergence of each new equation, Sayyed Nasrallah forces the Israelis to redo their calculations and to count until one million before starting an aggression against Lebanon or any among the components of the resistance axis. If the resistance indeed possesses the missiles mentioned by Sayyed Nasrallah, the Israelis should think about the weapons in Syria’s and Iran’s arsenals. The deterring equations imposed and tested by the resistance during the July 2006 war constitute proof for Lebanon’s strength in the face of the Israeli war machine, as well as the best response to the Lebanese politicians calling for the disarmament of the resistance upon the request of Western embassies and Qatari and Saudi money.
Sayyed Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah:
“If Israel were to attack Iran, it will give the Islamic Republic the opportunity it has been awaiting for thirty two years to launch its offensive. Iran and Gaza are the targets of a campaign that is growing more intense on all levels. Israel fears Iran. Israel’s problem is that Iran is an Islamic state that is becoming stronger. Hezbollah cannot destroy Israel but can make the lives of a million Zionists a living hell. The price to pay for war against Lebanon is extremely high. We might not be able to launch more than a few missiles, but they will make your lives hell. It will not be about the fall of hundreds of victims, rather tens of thousands of victims. A war today would be much more costly than the July 2006 war, considering that if Israel were to attack Lebanon, Hezbollah will not wait for anyone’s permission to defend the country. The lesson drawn from the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah is preventing the Israelis from attacking Iran (…) The decision issued by the Islamic Cooperation Organization to suspend Syria’s membership and isolate the regime in Damascus is unacceptable. Had they enjoyed some sense of historic responsibility, the members of the organization would have formed a committee to visit Damascus, Ankara and the Arab states implicated in the Syrian crisis, in order to put an end to the bloodbath in Syria once and for all. But instead of asking all the parties to return to the dialogue table, the Islamic summit encouraged the Syrians to head to war. Hezbollah acted in a responsible way at the level of the case of the eleven Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who were kidnaped in Syria last May. We thus told the families of the pilgrims to communicate with the government in regard to this issue, so that our positions are not used against the hostages. We do not know the kidnappers, which is why we remained silent and asked the state to assume its responsibility. However, the Lebanese media outlets acted irresponsibly by engaging in a race to secure a scoop. These media outlets do not fear God. I ask you to fear God! What happened during these last couple of days was out of Hezbollah’s and Amal’s control.”
Michel Aoun, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, (Hezbollah’s ally):
“The attempts to eliminate the army-people-resistance formula are part of a hostile project. Those advocating the elimination of this equation aim at facilitating Lebanon’s subjugation to international equations threatening Lebanon’s entity in the future. To Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah we say we are in the same camp and proceeding hand in hand so that we can continue your difficult fight (…). Samaha’s case is in the hands of justice, and based on our traditions and those of the Free Patriotic Movement, when justice is tending to a case, we let it act far away from political exploitation or rumors. We consider that everything that came out in the media is null until the issuance of the indictment. Only then can the arrested person become an accused.”
Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces (March 14, pro-American):
“President Suleiman and Prime Minister Mikati have a historical responsibility to deter the threats generated by the deterioration of the state in Lebanon, as well as its obliteration amidst a crisis of this size. I completely condemn the incidents seen during the last few days, as they gave the impression that Lebanon was completely abandoned, without a constitution and without laws. The armed groups are choosing their own policies and are kidnapping people without any regard for the laws in place. This case, regardless of how noble it is, does not justify the incidents that occurred or their consequences that could paralyze the country and annul the concept of the state. The appearance of individuals on television channels to proclaim their belonging to the Al-Mokdad clan and its military wing is unacceptable. If we follow this logic, we will have thousands of armed wings affiliated with the families, which harms the presence of the Lebanese state and annuls the role of the constitutional institutions. These movements’ role is to intimidate the refugees and the parties opposing the Syrian regime and supporting the Syrian popular revolution. These incidents aim at pressuring the president of the republic and the prime minister because the Syrian regime is displeased with the arrest of Michel Samaha, as this arrest constituted the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Foreign minister Adnan Mansour said to As-Safir before heading to Saudi Arabia that the government will not adopt any decision in regard to Syria before the issuance of a decision or a clear judicial ruling in regard to Michel Samaha’s case, despite all the pressures being exercised by known political forces and despite the demands to oust the Syrian ambassador, annul the Lebanese-Syrian Council or introduce international troops to be deployed along the border with Syria. He added: “The government cannot adopt any important and fateful political decision in regard to the relationship with Syria based on media leaks about the course of the investigations with Samaha and will not do so before the issuance of a judicial ruling. Therefore, we are leaving this file up to the judiciary.”
Deputy Walid Jumblatt also said to As-Safir that what was required was for the state to have the upper hand at the level of the arms issue, while any defensive strategy should serve that inclination. He indicated: “For years now, we have been debating this issue and the time has come to settle it.” Jumblatt had stated during an Iftar: “We cannot - under the slogan of the army-people-resistance - sustain this ambiguous partnership at the expense of the state, the army, security, the economy and the country’s fate. If the other team whether partially or in its entirety –i.e. the March 8- were to win in the next elections, I do not believe there will be any room left for centrism or plurality.”
New Orient News