I have been telling folks the same story for months — it is not necessary to intervene militarily to defeat Assad. It is only necessary to give the opposition enough aid to survive; as long as they hang on and keep up the pressure, the regime will slowly lose support, with more and more defections weakening it.
The struggle for Aleppo is proving to be at best a pyrrhic victory for the Assad regime, and may yet turn into a defeat. For two weeks, the opposition has held on to its positions and resisted assaults by helicopter gunships and heavy artillery. These assaults have shows the utter desperation of the Assad regime and that it cannot even fully control the most critical economic center in the country. Meanwhile, the concentration of Assad’s forces on Aleppo have allowed the opposition to take towns and villages throughout the remainder of the country.
At this point, the opposition, badly battered in Aleppo, may withdraw. Even if it does, it has made its point and badly weakened the regime.
Meanwhile, the expected acceleration of defections from the Assad regime continues. Today, news broke that Riad Farid Hijab, Syria’s prime minister and a loyalist appointed to head Assad’s government, issued a statement that read:
“I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution. I announce that I am from today a soldier in this blessed revolution.”
Other cabinet ministers, generals, and diplomats are also rumoured to have resigned. As the pace and scale of such defections quickens, Assad will soon find himself abandoned by his own elite supporters. The revolution is thus closing in. Bashar’s time in office is now numbered in the days or weeks, not months.
Great. Another victory for the Arab Spring and possibly for democratization. What is interesting is the pattern set last year continues. Its the presidents and colonels, not the kings and amirs. When will we see the first Arab monarchy fall? It is not totally incomprehendible. Afterall, another Middle Eastern monarchy, despite its oil wealth and security apparatus, fell more than thirty years ago. Or ‘Arab’ monarchs are different from other monarchs?
We would have seen Bahrain’s monarchy fall if not for Saudi Intervention. The rule in the Middle East is that several of the monarchies are the richest states due to oil, and they are willing to use their resources to support other monarchies (Bahrain, Jordan). So far, some monarchies have had to reform under pressure (Morocco, Oman, Kuwait) but they have fared much better than the corrupt ‘republics.’