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Opinion: Is Syria a headless chicken? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Most companies closed down in Syria after the fire of the revolution reached the Damascus suburbs and chaos spread in big cities like Aleppo. Shutting down fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken’s last remaining branch there is further proof that the situation is deteriorating as there’s no money, no funding and no customers.

The Damascus Airport is only working at one fourth of its capacity.

Trucks carrying goods for restaurants like KFC are no longer spotted on the roads. Almost all land border crossings are controlled by rebels, except for the al-Masnaa border crossing next to Lebanon. Turkey began building a wall with Syria out of fear of regime affiliates and terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The regime hasn’t tired yet, and it continues to fight fiercely to regain some strategic border crossings, like Iraq’s, in order to bring in weapons and fuel as the Iraqi regime is still its biggest source of funds. Battles are ongoing far away from the borders as well, in order to regain the suburbs and neighborhoods near the Damascus Airport, as during the past few months the opposition besieging the strategic road there. It’s no longer easy for residents to go from one neighborhood to another inside Damascus itself. There’s no life in areas controlled by the regime so all restaurants and companies have shut down.

This is Syria’s situation today and those who want to negotiate with Bashar Al-Assad’s government must know how the situation is on the ground and how the government has become merely a virtual mailing address. This, of course, does not mean that there’s an alternative regime to replace it. The country is entering a political and administrative vacuum. So how can some think that a conference like the Geneva conference can impose decisions on a country without functioning institutions?

If the opposition wasn’t divided into dozens of uncoordinated battalions, it would be in control of the land it has managed to seize. But the opposition is merely a collection of militias taking over checkpoints and posts or sometimes seizing entire cities. And even in the latter case, it does not have the capabilities to defend these cities or the capabilities to manage them. Syrian regime forces withdrew from some areas, leaving them for Al-Qaeda in order to punish these areas’ residents and show other rebellious areas that they will fall in the hands of the extremists. The regime is thus telling the people: the only choice is between the and the extremists of Al-Qaeda.

This is what makes us talk about basic facts. The regime’s ability to recover, survive and once again manage the country has disappeared. What the Assad regime can keep doing is fighting the war, as it is spending its savings and men on it. It’s also receiving aid from parties which support it in hopes there will be a political solution that may save it later. It’s difficult to answer the question of how can a political solution restore the regime since the latter possesses nothing anymore to run the state. All what’s left is destroyed cities and a desire for revenge.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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