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Syria: The crisis has entered the skies - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The reported shooting down of a Turkish warplane by al-Assad’s Air Defense is an important message to everybody in Ankara, as well as the international community, namely that the al-Assad regime – and those backing it – are prepared to fight to the last, and not just destroy Syria, but the entire region! This is also a clear sign regarding the desperate situation that the tyrant of Damascus now finds himself in.

Viewing the news in chronological order helps one to see the bigger picture, and so the bringing down of the Turkish warplane was carried out by the Air Force of the tyrant of Damascus, however the announcement of this news was issued by Al-Manar TV, which is affiliated to the Iran-backed Hezbollah organization in Lebanon. Whilst following this, the al-Assad regime immediately rushed to apologize to Ankara. This, therefore, demonstrates the complete harmony between the al-Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran, and serves as a clear message to the Turks, and others, that al-Assad is not fighting this battle alone, but that he has Iran and Hezbollah in his corner! However does al-Assad possess the capabilities to confront the Turkish forces? Certainly not, and the evidence of this is that he rushed to immediately apologize to Ankara, and this indicates that he wants to send a message regarding the “crazy option”, namely the possibility of a war against Turkey. However he is ultimately incapable of doing so, for various reasons, and this is what confirms that al-Assad is in a desperate situation.

The bringing down of the Turkish warplane is not just a message to the Turks, but this may also be an internal message to his own forces. The shooting down of the Turkish fighter jet comes one day after the defection of a Syrian Air Force pilot – along with his warplane – to Jordan, requesting political asylum there. It seems that this defection cost the al-Assad regime one warplane, and so he wanted to respond by exchanging one warplane for another, whilst also serving to raise the morale of his criminal troops. Dictators often charge to the fore during times of crises, and this is either by fabricating a larger crisis or by inciting wars in order to unify internal ranks. This is precisely what Saddam Hussein previously did, and the same goes for Khomeinist Iran. In order to confirm this in al-Assad’s case, we need only contemplate the accelerating rate of defections of officers from the ranks of his forces, as well as the fact that more and more senior officers are beginning to defect, including the defection of a senior pilot – along with his warplane – from the Syrian Air Force, whilst yesterday 4 senior officers from Aleppo also defected.

Of course, the military defections, along with the fighter jet, indicate that al-Assad’s crisis has entered the skies. This confirms that Annan’s initiative has failed, and is dead, and that there is no hope for its implementation. Whilst the increasing rate of defections indicates that the time has come to impose buffer zones or safety corridors along the Turkish and Jordanian borders with Syria, for this would speed up the collapse of the al-Assad regime, particularly in light of the news that members of al-Assad’s inner circle are moving closer to defecting. Many of those close to al-Assad have begun to move their wealth outside of Syria, and this is understandable, especially with the changing conditions on the ground no longer being in favor of the tyrant of Damascus. This has caused al-Assad to lose his temper and order the deaths of a huge number of Syrian people, and the last two days alone have witnessed a death toll of over 200!

It is clear that we are facing the beginning of the end of al-Assad, but who will perform the coup de grace, namely implement the buffer zones?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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