Syria continues to witness an escalation in the quality and quantity of defections from the al-Assad regime. Whilst the defection of Manaf Tlass served as an indication of the internal fragmentation of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the recent defection of newly appointed Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab, along with some of his ministers and officers, serves as another indication, namely that the majority of the Syrians who are serving al-Assad are doing so under threat of his forces, and some – if not many – are looking for a way to escape his grasp. These Syrians are looking for a way to free themselves of al-Assad and the brutal manner in which he has chosen to confront the enmity of his people, namely with murder and destruction, sectarianism and the creation of a civil war, and reviving the dream of establishing an Alawite state in the region close to the An-Nusayriyah Mountain range [western Syria]. As for his final refuge, this will not be Moscow or Tehran, or even a fate written by the angry and enraged Syrian people when they announce their victory!
We have seen the complete fragmentation of the inner circle surrounding al-Assad, not to mention the government that he appointed and the generals that he allowed to reach high positions, as well as officers and soldiers in his army. This is something that is taking place in coordination with the Free Syrian Army [FSA], which is fighting against al-Assad on the ground and which carries with it the hopes and desires of the Syrian people. As for Iran, it is desperately trying to defend al-Assad regionally, whilst Russia and China are defending the broken and collapsing Damascus regime in the international sphere. The FSA is providing ways for defectors to leave the country, as well as protecting their families, carrying out these operations in an impressive and professional manner.
In addition to what these defection represent regarding the fragmentation of the rigid al-Assad regime, this also represents another important indication, namely that the regime’s numerous security apparatus – and there are perhaps a dozen of these – are also fragmented and divided. This is because all these security apparatus rely on the prestige of the state, as well as intimidation and fear, rather than utilizing professional and modern means of operations. These security apparatus lack the required experience and expertise, although Iran has sought to train the al-Assad regime forces in suppressing the population, as Iran’s own security forces did during the Green Revolution there.
Following this enormous public pressure on Syria, Iran was forced to announce that it would not allow the Damascus regime’s back to the broken, ending its “resistance” axis, which in reality is nothing more than a sectarian lie. The Bashar al-Assad regime is therefore being provided relief by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp [IRGC], who are aerially bombarding Aleppo, as al-Assad cannot allow Syrian forces to carry out such operations in fear that they may turn against him and target his presidential palaces! The FSA was able to capture 40 Iranians in the heart of Damascus, right under al-Assad’s nose, and now we see Iran floundering between attacking some regional countries and calling for intervention to save these captured Iranian, considering them to be religious pilgrims. The FSA lately revealed that some of these Iranians – according to their own documentation – are members of the IRGC, which has been acknowledged by Iran. However the larger question remains, namely: is it logical for Iran to send religious pilgrims to Damascus at a time when the al-Assad regime is falling apart, which is something that Tehran – as al-Assad’s principal ally – knows better than anyone? Couldn’t they have sent these pilgrims to equally sacred holy sites within Iran itself or neighboring Iraq?
It is clear, from all the above, that the infection of turmoil and confusion has begun to spread from the al-Assad regime to the Iranian regime, which is suffering domestically and looking for any external distraction to draw the attention of the Iranian public. The Iranian people are in a state of extreme anger as a result of decades of oppression and dictatorship in the name of God and sect, against the general public and the Green Revolution in particular, especially as the regime is still recovering from the wounds this “revolution” dealt it. This public anger is only growing stronger with the rising effects of the severe economic sanctions on Iran; this represents a slow death for the country for the sake of unjustifiable dreams of nuclear arms and imposing Iranian hegemony on the region. Iran is in a state of confusion and does not know whether it should recognize the new reality that is imposing itself on the ground or choose the victory of empty-handed return or cling to the dreams of old which have led to nothing but three decades of collapse and delusion. Iran could also choose the Samson Option that would kill everybody!
The advice put forward by the mullah’s regime in Tehran towards al-Assad was extremely bad, and this focused on the sectarian dimensions of the political game. They are experienced in playing the sectarian card in the region over the past decades; they succeeded in devouring the state of Iraq via their followers and utilizing the force of terrorism. They did the same in Lebanon, where they established and armed sectarian parties, and they were even able to hijack the country for a period of time, during which time it experienced all the destruction anyone can image. They sought to create a cancer in many Arab states, including in Bahrain via the “saboteurs”, in Yemen via the Huthi rebels, as well as by planting terrorist and espionage cells in Kuwait, Yemen, and a number of other Arab states. This is the heart of Iran’s antiquated style.
When I previously wrote about al-Assad’s delusions regarding the establishment of an Alawite state in the An-Nusayriyah Mountain range, this was based on history, logic and reading and analyzing the reality of the situation. Whilst just days ago, King Abdullah II of Jordan, spoke about the same idea, warning against the establishment of a “Shiite crescent”, which is something that we have seen ourselves recently. This is a statement from a political leader who possesses a great deal of information and knowledge on this issue, and we must therefore pay attention to this.
We have seen the beginning of a noticeable shift in the general US and western position in dealing with the situation in Syria outside of the framework of the UN Security Council, particularly after the departure of Annan and his initiative and the change in the balance of power on the ground. This became clear after the collapse of the al-Assad began to be viewed as inevitable. Therefore we have seen numerous statements that have hinted that the West is in the process of adopting new policies towards Syria and the unbearable situation that is raging in the country, particularly in terms of the war crimes and sectarian massacres. This comes amidst escalating criticism of the Obama administration from some former senior government officials. These former officials have criticized the Obama administration for compromising Washington’s international position by allowing Russia and China to return to the international scene in such a strong manner, which is detrimental to America’s regional and global strategic interests.
Finally, the al-Assad regime’s domestic veil has been cast off with the defection of the prime minister, however the foreign protective screen – represented by Iran regionally and Russia and China internationally – remains firmly in place. This is a protective screen that is weakening, and the current circumstances will not allow it to remain in place for long!