January 5, 2013

Syrian Vertical – the Fall of B. Assad’s Regime and Its Consequences for the World and Region

Despite the great desire of the Syrian regime of B. Assad to remain in power, the events in Syria have been developing not to its advantage and are approaching their logical end. All of this looks like the “Libyan” scenario, when the preconditions had been created for removing the current leaders from power.

Thus, lately political and military structures of Syrian opposition forces have united and developed, and thus have strengthened their positions in the country and on the international arena.

Representatives of the «Free Syrian Army»  

Representatives of the «Free Syrian Army» First of all this refers to the formation of the sole higher political body of the opposition - the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), which has united representatives of the outer and inner oppositions, as well as of the so-called “Free Syrian Army”. Legitimacy of the SNC, as a representative of the Syrian people, has been recognized by a number of countries (USA included), which fact allows the world community to give a more significant help (military help included) to the rebels in their confrontation to B. Assad’s regime.

At the present moment the Syrian National Coalition has formed the Parliament and Government of Syria for the transition period, which will take up all the power to prevent chaos in the country after overthrowing the current Syrian Government. Right now these bodies are already functioning as representatives of the Syrian opposition both, on the international arena, and inside the country.

To structure the military wing, the High Military Council has been formed, to which the Headquarters of the opposition’s armed groups are subordinate. They are united within the framework of the Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern and Damascus “fronts”, including the organized on the territorial principle brigades (mainly consisting of fighters from the local population).

Syrian President Bashar al-AssadDue to these measures, and thanks to the help of the foreign opponents of B. Assad’s regime (first of all, the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and Great Britain), the opposition forces of Syria have achieved certain success. They have established a control of a number of Syrian regions along the border with Turkey and Iraq, and thus created the conditions for a force intervention from the outside at the excuse of establishing “buffer zones” and “aircraft free zones” (like it was done in Libya in its time). The leaders of the SNC keep stressing at the importance of creation of such zones for the opposition groupings could have principally new abilities in the struggle against Assad’s office. In particular, this refers to capturing the key cities of Syria (in the first rate, Aleppo and Damascus, which are already controlled by the opposition), as well as central provinces of the country (first of all, Hama).

Aleppo (Haleb), Damascus, Hama on the Map of Syria    

Aleppo (Haleb), Damascus, Hama on the Map of Syria  It should be mentioned, that nearly 2 years of the armed confrontation in Syria, as well as the international sanctions, have worsened Syria’s economic potential.

Thus, in 2012 the GDP of Syria decreased by more than 20% as compared with 2011. In particular, the volumes of oil production are four times smaller (before the conflict the income from oil export made 25 % of the profit part of the state budget of the country); the objects of the industrial, transport and energy infrastructure are damaged or destroyed; foreign investments have stopped; tourism, the second after oil, important component of the Syrian economy, has curtailed its activity.

All this has led to a rapid decrease of the gold and first line reserves (according to some estimations, these reserves now are not more than 3 to 4 billion US dollars). Due to the growth of unemployment, provisions and essential goods shortage, the prices are growing high. At this the financial and economic help from Russia and Iran, as well as the attempts of the leaders of Syria to bypass international sanctions, are not settling economy’s problems, just delaying a little the fall of the agonizing Syrian regime.

The force structures of Syria are getting exhausted, their potential keeps decreasing due to the losses in the course of fighting operations, desertion (not only of soldiers and officers, but of representatives of high military commandment), significant decrease of production and repair of the arms and military equipment (which are mainly replenished by deliveries from Russia and Iran). There is not enough money for finance support of the armed forces.

Syrian pilot hijacked a plane

  Ethnic map of Syria and Lebanonа

Ethnic map of Syria and Lebanonа Actually, only the elite units of the National Guard and Special Operations Forces, formed from the Alawites (Shiites) part of the Syrian population - co-believers of B. Assad, have preserved their fighting efficiency and are keep the support to his regime. Special Forces of The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and armed groups of the Palestinian extremist Hamas movement and Lebanese Hezbollah actively help the Syrian leaders in their struggle against the rebels. With their help B. Assad’s regime is trying to control large cities and industrial centers of the country, at the same time trying not to let the areas controlled by rebels to widen and preventing the force intervention from abroad. In the course of the combat actions the Syrian governmental arms widely use artillery and multiple rocket launcher system, as well as aircraft fleet (fighter-bombers and helicopters), which leads to considerable casualties among the civil population.

The long duration of the armed conflict in Syria destabilizes the situation in the whole Middle East substantially, increasing the motivation of using outer forces. This is especially actual for the USA and their allies as a reason for increasing the pressure on Iran (of military nature included) in order to prevent its getting nuclear weapon, as well as to change the country’s government, whose positions are obviously anti-Western and anti-Israeli ones.

It is true, that armed forces cannot be used against Syria without a special resolution of the Security Council of the UN. With such a resolution do not agree Russia and China, who support B. Assad’s regime as a guarantee of preserving their influence in Syria and in the Middle East in general. But despite all this, a foreign force intervention may begin without the UN SC’s decision, at the excuse of necessity of immediate reaction to an extraordinary situation.

Media: Bashar al-Assad first used chemical weapons? 

Media: Bashar al-Assad first used chemical weapons?  Such an extraordinary situation can happen in case of B. Assad’s regime’s using chemical weapon against the rebels or losing the control of this weapon. According to the statements of representatives of the USA leaders, this will be a sort of a “red line”, which crossing will mean inevitability of foreign force actions in Syria.

Besides, the activation of armed incidents at the Syria-Turkey border (in particular, the death of Turkish citizens from artillery fire of the Turkish territory by the Syrian troops in the course of their fighting actions against rebels) can give Turkey the grounds for the direct intervention into the Syrian conflict. At this, according to Article 5 of the Washington Agreement of the NATO, Ankara has the right to apply for help to its NATO allies.

The latest events around Syria have the signs of their development exactly according to this scenario. The USA is moving on to direct accusations of the Syrian leaders of their preparations for using chemical weapon against the rebels, stating that bombs and shells are equipped with chemical elements of neuro-paralytic agent. It is also stated, that the anti-government forces have captured chemical components (in particular, stocks of chlorides at a plant in Aleppo), which can be estimated as Damascus’ losing control of the chemical weapon.

On the 4th of December, 2012 the US Congress adopts an amendment to the project of the draft of a Law on the defense budget for 2013 financial year, according to which the American defense department by the beginning of February 2013 has to prepare a report on the possibility of its military intervention into the Syrian conflict.

According to Western mass-media, plans of such intervention have been developed or are being developed in the Ministries of defense of the USA, Great Britain and France. It is not impossible that within the framework of practical realization of these plans that in sea around Syria, there takes place (on the rotation principle) the continuous duty of carrier forces and expeditionary (assault landing-helicopter) groups of Navy of the USA and France.

  NATO deploys anti-missile Patriot in southern Turkey near the city of Gaziantep..
 The radar system of American Patriot, posted in Gaziantep, can detect objects in the airspace over Aleppo - the second largest city of Syria, as well as the province of Idlib

>NATO deploys anti-missile Patriot in southern Turkey near the city of GaziantepAdhering to the NATO allies commitments, the commandment of NATO has approved of Ankara’s appeal as to the deployment of “Patriot” anti-aircraft missile complexes at the Turkish territory (in the regions along the Syrian border). Batteries of this complex together with its staff are heading to Turkey from the USA, Germany and Netherlands.

According to the opinion of Western experts (in particular, of the American Agency STRATFOR), a force intervention into the Syrian situation from the outside can begin at the end of this winter – at the beginning of the spring of 2013, even without a necessary decision of the UN SC. As it has been already mentioned, the reason for it may become an incident with chemical weapon (as a result of its real using by the current Government of Syria or its losing the control of it, or as a result of a specially arranged provocation of the opponents of B. Assad’s regime).

It is obvious, that the most possible place for such an incident may be a Turkish region on the border with Syria, and this will “legalize” the Ankara and its allies’ creation of “buffer zones” at the territory of Syria and of “aircraft free zones”. At the same time, the Special Forces subunits of the USA, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will begin special operations on establishing the control of the Syrian stores of chemical weapon.

Under the cover of humanitarian help to the Syrian population, there may be organized so-called “humanitarian corridors” in the direction of the main cities of Syria (first of all Damascus and Aleppo), where the most active clashes between the government’s troops and rebels are taking place. Opponents of B. Assad’s regime will actually start carrying out the elements of the land operation at the Syrian territory.

All these actions can be accompanied by the airstrikes on the troops and objects of AF of Syria as a rebels support. Besides, like it was in Libya, a land, air and sea blockade of Syria should be expected, which will stop military and economic help to Syria from abroad. To the possibility of this scenario testify the active attacks of rebels at the airfields of governmental troops and at antiaircraft complexes in order to prevent the counteractions of the AF of Syria to the airstrikes of the future anti-Assad coalition. Syria is actually blocked by Turkey which examines all aircrafts heading to Syrian airfields via the Turkish air space.

Other versions of the development of the situation in Syria cannot be excluded either, such as: an attempt on B. Assad’s life during a terrorist act or his free will giving up a power (the “Yemen” version). In particular, in December of 2012, Vice-President of Syria F.al-Sharaa suggested that the opposition should stop military actions and organize a government of the people unity.

Russia pulls ships to the coast of Syria  

Navy guided-missile cruiser Russia According to his initiative, the leading countries of the world and region, together with the UN’s SC, must secure the peaceful regulation. Similar suggestions are put forward by Russia and Iran. But, taking into consideration the victims of the Syrian conflict, these other versions will hardly be realized.

In any case, the change of the government in Syria will have a number of principal consequences, both, of regional and international importance. First of all, as it has been mentioned above, overthrow of B. Assad’s regime will allow the USA and its allies to increase the pressure on Iran, which will sooner or later end in the fail of the Iranian leaders, to which testifies the proportion of the forces of the sides. At this, neither Russia, nor China will be able really to help Syria or Iran (if we don’t take into consideration the loud statements and attempts of the Russian side to demonstrate its force in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, having sent there ships of the Black Sea and other navies of Russia).

A separate problem will be an activation of national Kurd movements aiming at creating an independent Kurd state consisting of regions of compact living of ethnic Kurds in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

On the one hand, the mentioned above processes will lead to complete transfer of the Middle East region under the control of the USA and their allies, on the other hand - to the actual losing of its control over the region by Russia. Change of the government in Iran will create favorable conditions for the USA and EU for the realization of the projects of direct transmission of the Caspian and Central Asian energy carriers to Europe via Iran by-passing the Russian Federation, which will have for it, mildly speaking, catastrophic consequences.

Significant changes will also take place in the line-up of the political-religious forces in the Middle East region. New centers of force - Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will grow rapidly, positions of Sunnites will get stronger, while those of Shiites will get weaker.

As to the military actions at the transitional stage in Syria and Iran, they will have quite negative results both for the Middle East region and for other countries, Ukraine included. First of all, the world oil prices will temporarily grow, the system of world economic connections with Syria and Iran will fall apart, there will be large streams of refugees and uncontrolled weapon markets will appear (like it happened after the war in Libya).

Syrian opposition concedes city of Idlib

For Ukraine the greatest negative will be increase of prices of energy carriers in the situation of the country’s energy dependence on Russia and its global plans of building the Eurasian Union. Besides, the urgent need of Ukraine will be the actual participation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in conflicts in the Middle East (at least within the framework of demonstration of force), while the question of its combat employment from the Ukrainian territory is not settled juridically. In fact, this means further involving Ukraine into conflicts on Russia’s side.