Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region

maher-basharScreenshot of an undated video showing Maher and Bashar al-Assad. (France24)

Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – (Part 6, final)

The assumption
So where do we go from here? Our estimations are based on the assumption that regional and international powers have come to the conclusion not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to ward off a bigger catastrophe in the region.

Is he going to restore his power? Difficult to say.

The balance of power seems to have tipped, yes. But neither is the war won nor will he have the free hand, he had before. Assad is heavily indebted to Hezbollah, Iran and Russia now.

Feeding paladins a foreign backers
There is often a public misconception about strong men and dictators, of whom many people think they are a kind of almighty.

Realities are, no man does it alone, and Assad now not only has to feed his domestic paladins, but also those outside powers that did help him survive. How will he do that without losing grip on the country and being exposed as a mere marionette in the hands of others?

There are difficult times ahead for the Syrian President, even if an imminent overthrow seems to be averted. He could fall in the course of power struggles, once the dust has settled and internal and external helpers begin to quarrel about influence in a future Syrian state.

Assad may survive, but he will have to compromise on many fronts, making him look weak, sooner or later, which often is the beginning of a ruler´s downfall.

The danger of an assassin
We think the biggest looming danger for Assad and his power apparatus is not the rebels, but an inner-circle assassin. Once Assad is dead, and especially the Alawite community loses its identifying figure, the army and security services may indeed spilt up.

Maher al-Assad´s fate is publicly unknown, and he does not command the public support and sympathy President Bashar al-Assad still has.

Arming the rebels?
What if – in a sudden shift – the international community opts for a heavy military build-up in favour of the Syrian opposition? An intervention does not seem likely against Russia´s opposition and Western problems with that. But funnelling in game-changing weapons is still an option.

Two-time Pulitzer Price winner David Rohde wrote in “The Atlantic” on May 25:

“If the Obama administration and its European and Arab allies want to defeat Assad, they must increase military aid to the rebels now.”

We think – with all due respect – it is by far too late for that: Not enough time for delivery and training, and the opposition is split to a degree that game-changing weapons in all likelihood will reach those guys, who are going to shoot them into Israeli, European or US airliners.

If once there was a time window for arming the rebels decisively it has passed since long.

Now, foreign funded and manned jihadists groups are steering the wheel on the battlefield, and the somewhat secular opposition is in no position to control the flow of weapons.

The split opposition
Opposition groups are not even able to fix their leadership problems in a secure environment like a five-star hotel. How can anybody assume they would agree on the battlefield or on a post-Assad era?

This is the last part of our series “Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region”.