A "stalemate" implies a situation where neither side can make progress. Is that the case in Syria? A more accurate description is that the FSA is winning--inexorably--but slower than we'd like.
The word categorizes only Aleppo and--to a lesser degree--Damascus where lack of sufficient weapons is all that prevents a thumping FSA victory. l
Key Developments that could shake things up:
There seem no possibility of even one major development that could help Assad. Externally no nation will switch from opposing to supporting any regime that relies on "kill the civilians" as its sole survival strategy. Internally the diverse nature of the FSA and its hit-and-run tactics make it virtually invulnerable to a knockout.
Any of these seven potential developments could hasten Assad's fall: 1) increased access to weapons, especially anti-air; 2) unification of the opposition; 3. changes in US policy after the election; 4. A major military blow such as loss of a vital airports or another Damascus bombing; 5. More defections that promote a "sauf qui peut" attitude; 6) a reversal of Putin's prediction. pr a 7) a coup.
IS THE OPPOSITION WINNING ANYWHERE?
1.On the ground: FSA has won a string of victories in Idlib, Deir Ez Zor, and now (surprise!) Lattakia. I see no reason that won't continue. Some airports fell easily because defending troops defected which suggests that if Iranian fighters have been sent by Khamenei to hold such bases, they have not been stationed in the North. If and when Iranians are encountered elsewhere, the FSA will surely likely a "no quarter" policy and rightly so.
2. Losses of military personnel: Imprecise weapons limit FSA combat losses. Where close up combat does occur, the FSA has the edge either because it is fighting on the defensive from excellent positions (as in cities) or because it can in surprise attacks against regime supply lines at any time. Hence, combat losses of higher for the regime. However the real difference comes from ongoing and daily defections. Who defect from the FSA? Thus, defections are overwhelmingly a one-way process which only weakens one side--Assad's. The FSA's problem for now is a surplus of would be fighters and a shortage of arms for them. That will change as outside arms arrive.
3. Vulnerable supply lines and equipment: Another one-way processs for the most part. Effect on the FSA is minimal. Effect on regime is substantial. Think of one of those video games in which a ferocious monster continues to appear ferocious with hit after hit until he suddenly dies.
4. Vulnerable air bases: If the FSA had more ammuition and weapons, even more would have fallen. In the past few weeks, the Free Syrian Army has launched strikes on air bases in both Damascus and Aleppo, and has devastated several key air bases in Idlib Province and now near Al Bukamal in Deir Ez Zor. If Assad cannot use air strikes now to stop the advance of the insurgents, there is a possibility that his air forces may be destroyed while they are still on the ground.
Footage of this week's fighting shows FSA anti-aircraft weapons, and a BMP armored vehicle, operating either just inside or just outside of one of the main gates of Abu Al Duhur MILITARY airport.
5. Psychological victories: The FSA enjoys two intrinsic morale boosters. It is fighting on the defensive against a regime whose tactics arose the sort of hate the Nazis inspired. Their sole demoralizer is lack of sufficient weapons. On the other hand, regime troops--with endless weapons--are demoralized by so many things: forced atrocities, terrible casualties, supply line cuts that even limit available food, and a sense of isolation and doom in so many garrisons. The only motivated Assad troops consist of minority members who have committed too many crimes.
IS THE REGIME WINNING ANYWHERE?
Militarily victories (meaning against actual enemy forces): Virtually nowhere. Most deaths and injuries have been inflicted (intentionally) on unarmed civilians. In one "victory" the regime did regain control (temporarily) of a border post with Jordan yesterday but the only effect is on civilians whose exit from Syria has been blocked. In Damascus and Aleppo the regime's limited "victories" have consisted of taking neighborhoods the FSA was unable to hold because it ran out of ammo. Even then those areas are not in full control.
According to Enduring America: The fighting in Damascus does not appear to be confined to the Yarmouk refugee camps. This video, posted by the CFDPC reportedly shows smoke rising above both the Yarmouk camp and the nearby Tadamoun district. However, more significantly the LCC has posted that there are clashes in the Qadam district, in Sheeba (southwest suburb), and even in Dweila, on the southwest corner of the capital (map). This suggests that the FSA actions in the city are very widespread.. To top that off, there are unverified videos claiming to show FSA "parading" through the capital. It's likely more a sign to the regime that despite their best efforts, the FSA is still in Damascus, and while the insurgents are incapable of holding territory, they can move in and out when they please.
Add this to the report that checkpoints are going up all over Damascus (update 0955), and there is a contradiction - apparently, despite the checkpoints, the FSA is still making its presence felt today.
Psychological Victories: Mass attacks on civilians rest on two assumptions. First, that enough atrocities will alienate the public from the FSA . Secondly, the result will drive Syrians to the bargain table. The latter, equivalent to demanding that Auchwitz inmates nogotiate with Nazis, will never happen. The regime's limited success here comes to the degree both the FSA and the regime get blamed for the bombing. However, people still know who is ultimiately responsible. Secondly, the FSA obviously will never stop fighting until the regime is gone in any case.
Speaking of significant developments:France 'may send anti-aircraft guns to Syrian rebels'
France may seek to break the increasingly bloody stalemate in Syria by providing rebel forces with artillery and anti-aircraft guns, it has been claimed.
Syria's rebels struggle to tame Assad's air power
Iran sends elite troops to aid Assad regime Iran is intensifying its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad by sending 150 senior Revolutionary Guards commanders to Syria to help repel opposition attempts to overthrow the government.
Western intelligence officials say that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime, Iran's most important regional ally, survives the threat to its survival.
In addition, Iran has shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells, to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.
Intelligence officials believe the increased Iranian support has been responsible for the growing effectiveness of the Assad regime's tactics in forcing anti-government rebel groups on the defensive...
The Iranian operation to support Mr Assad is being masterminded by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Guards' Quds force which is responsible for overseeing Iran's overseas operations.
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