Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Who rules Damascus now? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Following yesterday’s exciting dramatic events, the al-Assad regime may not live through Ramadan to celebrate Eid at the end of the month. In fact, the regime may not even survive the night! Yesterday, we were watching our television screens and not asking who died, but rather who is still alive, and where is President Bashar al-Assad himself who – at the time of writing this article – has failed to make a public appearance after a number of his senior ministers and officials had been killed. Al-Assad has not appeared in public since this attack, nor have any of his senior officials. This means that al-Assad was either killed in the attack – and this is possible but unlikely – or that he is alive and secluding himself in a secret location. Even if he does appear and issue a statement, his followers all believe that he is completely responsible for the successive failures that have struck the regime. Al-Assad is a man who has failed to learn any lessons from his successive failures over the years, transforming failures into crises, and leading the country into the inferno of the revolution. Despite all the ropes that have been thrown to him, al-Assad has played the role of Nero whilst Syria burns!

Following the mass killing of the leaders of the Damascus regime, we can only ask ourselves: will the al-Assad regime last for weeks or hours? Nobody is asking whether al-Assad will remain in power or be toppled, for the annihilation of the leadership of this security military regime is too great for it to overcome, both in terms of morale and numbers.

As a result of what happened yesterday, the majority of the [opposition] fighters will attack the capital, believing that it is now possible to achieve the moment of victory in light of the regime’s confusion and the weakness of its forces, which have been broken, both in terms of morale and numbers. We must also recall the battles that broke out at the beginning of this week in Damascus and the swift and surprising deployment which proved that the Free Syrian Army [FSA] is larger than analysts previously thought. The FSA’s sudden attacks from the Damascus neighborhoods of Al Qaddam and Midan forced the al-Assad regime to use helicopters and heavy weaponry. This confirmed that the Syrian regime is fragile and its military fatigued, after it had been fighting long battles outside of Damascus for more than a year. I believe that the Syrian opposition fighters sudden storming of the capital has confused the regime and frightened its followers, and perhaps this is what precipitated the massacre of the leaders on the third day of the fighting.

Whether what happened was an explosion or a counter-coup, namely an internal elimination, there can be no doubt that the regime has suffered an injury that it will not recover from. It seems that al-Assad’s Damascus will face a similar fate to Saddam’s Baghdad, which collapsed rapidly. How is it possible that al-Assad’s forces have been fighting for over a year – including in Homs – but are now witnessing a rapid collapse in Damascus? This is thanks to the resolve and steadfastness of the Syrian revolutionaries, which is unparalleled in modern history. They demonstrated from the outset that they are capable of marching on the capital, albeit slowly, and despite their modest capabilities. Accordingly, everybody –from the government to regional and international powers – must review their calculations in this regard.

How have the Russians benefited by clinging to a president who has completely failed to manage political and military battles? They have truly entangled themselves with a regime that is hated in the Arab world and whose hands are stained with blood, a regime that is being defeated in the most humiliating manner.