HASAN KANBOLAT

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HASAN KANBOLAT
April 20, 2012, Friday

Syria: Towards a manageable chaos

The fact that was revealed within the civil uprising in Syria is that it is very hard for both the regime and the opposition to abandon their positions.

The fight will go on until either the regime is changed or the opposition is quelled. After Homs, the third largest city in the country and the center of resistance, the Syrian army headed towards Idlib, another center of the uprising. As a result of military operations against Idlib, situated on the Syrian-Turkish border, many Syrians started to migrate to Turkey’s Hatay province. The number of Syrian guests here has exceeded 25,000.

Since the conditions that required international intervention in Libya have not come into existence in Syria, an international intervention in Syria does not seem possible. What made intervention in Libya possible were serious divisions within Gaddafi’s regime; important politicians and military figures joining the ranks of the opposition; the existence of a relatively organized, homogenous political and armed opposition that could fight against the central authority; this opposition gaining international legitimacy; and, above all, the opposition gaining control of a region completely, in other words, the existence of a safe zone like Benghazi.

When the example of Syria is considered, none of these factors have come into existence. The Syrian opposition could not gain control of a certain region permanently and could not create a safe zone. So far, the defections from the Syrian regime have remained minor in qualitative and quantitative terms. Among politicians and bureaucrats, there has been no important defections, except for some deputies and diplomats so far. The Assad regime still has control over public officials. Defections among security units are comparatively higher in number; however, they are not enough to upset the balance between the Syrian army and the armed opposition in favor of the opposition.

It is evident that an opposition that could lead the civil uprising could not come out. Although the Free Syrian Army stands out as a military opposition, there are deficiencies in terms of the leadership’s impact on the internal politics of the military opposition, and the coordination of internal units with each other. Additionally, apart from the Free Syrian Army, some kinds of military structure like a Military Council are starting to show up.

Although the Free Syrian Army has limited opportunities, with the support of the public it managed to gain control in the suburbs of Damascus and provinces like Hama, Homs, Idlib and Dayr az-Zawr, where opposition is strong. However, sending the army into the streets, the Syrian regime regained control in these areas one by one. In this situation, among the actors that defend change in Syria, the idea that harsher military measures should be taken against Assad’s reign is reinforced.

An imbalance between the Syrian army and the Syrian opposition in terms of power distribution in favor of the regime is the main issue. This situation prevents the Syrian opposition from remaining permanently in the regions it had gained control over in the country. In Syria, the Alawite, Druze and Kurdish minorities form the majority of the population in some provinces. These groups not supporting the opposition or adopting passive neutrality paves the way for the regime to intensify its military might in regions where Sunnis are in the majority. The opportunities for the Syrian regime to arm itself are limited. The opponents only have light arms like rifles and machine guns. They have limited communication tools such as walkie-talkies and a connection to the Internet that enable them to coordinate their moves.

The centers of resistance are being crushed one by one. Therefore, on top of oppression, isolation and sanctions, more concrete and harsher foreign policy options have been started to be discussed among the actors that defend regime change in Syria. But some in Syria run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Syria is gradually entering a system of “manageable chaos.” In other words, this means a weak Damascus and a continuous low-intensity conflict. If a foreign military intervention does not take place, this war will end only if the regime in Damascus collapses in economic terms. As a result, the Syria that Israel dreamt of is turning into reality. Did Israel only dream it or did it make an effort to create it?