Today, apparently a bombing has taken out much of the Assad regime’s security leadership. Rumors are that Bashar Assad himself was present and injured in the attack. The attack is a classic decapitation strike that was made by either the Free Syrian Army or by Islamist insurgents. Among the dead are the Syrian Defense Minister. This bombing comes in the fourth day of fighting in Damascus between anti-Assad forces and the Syrian security forces. While the Assad regime will likely not fall soon, I do believe we are seeing the endgame in the Syrian Civil War.
The Assad regime is probably finished. Its only a matter of when, not if. The regime has failed to defeat the Free Syrian Army in 16 months of fighting in the provinces. Now, it appears they have taken the war to the Syrian capital. While the rebel attack appears to be too disorganized to actually take Damascus, they will likely tie down large numbers of Syrian security forces and possibly may consider some officials in the regime to start thinking about their futures. As the regime is forced to use more forces and resources to defend the capital, the rebels in the provinces may seize the opportunity to make gains. In any event, the Assad regime’s control of Syria will continue to chip away, slowly but surely. The Iranian government will likely continue to send troops and money to continue propping up the Assad regime but it will still likely be for naught as the Free Syrian Army continues to grow stronger and will likely gain more support and arms from the Arab states and NATO.
The Assad regime has entered its endgame. I do not see Bashar Assad and his allies going quietly into exile as their regime crumbles, instead I believe they will fight to the last man. The most likely scenario is an attempted final crackdown by the Syrian security forces and their Iranian allies against the FSA and the Islamists. The fight will be bloody but likely futile.
Here’s probably the worst case scenario: Assad decides to use to his chemical weapons. But Assad doesn’t just use his weapons against his own people like Saddam did, he also targets Israel in conjunction with Hezbollah; thereby trying to expand the conflict. There will be a choice that has to be made by NATO and more specifically the United States. If NATO and the US do not intervene once Assad deploys his chemical weapons, Israel certainly will. I do not see Benjamin Netanyahu confining Israel’s military response to just Syria and Lebanon, but it will likely include military action against Iran, especially in response to today’s under reported terrorist attacks in Bulgaria, which may spark an even wider and more disastrous war.
But wars don’t end when the last shot is fired, or in this case, when Bashar Assad is swinging from a lamp post in Damascus. There will be conflicts between secularists and Islamists and the remnants of the Assad regime will likely wage an insurgency against the new government. Syria will likely be as unstable in the short term as Libya was when Gaddafi fell. Arms proliferation will probably be a problem as many of the weapons used wind up on the black market.
The next few months will probably be interesting to say the least in Syria.