In the last few days we’ve started to see hints that Syrian End-Game is expected to involve a launch of some of Syria’s giant, and very real, stockpile of chemical and biological weapons (CBW). The strategy of regime change in Damascus pursued by the US and its regional allies may assure that outcome.
As the prospect of annihilation nears, the Generals in Damascus -- almost all of whom are of the ruling Alawite religious minority -- may see little chance to preserve themselves from the Sunni onslaught other than to threaten exercise of their last-ditch option of launching a missile-launched CBW attack on surrounding countries that have been running the armed opposition.
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Yesterday, the NYT reported that the United States has detected what is described as movement of some of Syria’s CBW stocks, and has warned that attempted use would cross a “red line” triggering direct US military intervention. http://www.nytimes.com/... It is not yet clear whether this movement is merely precautionary measures by the Syrian armed forces to avoid these weapons falling into the hands of opposition forces.
Meanwhile, Israel has indicated to Jordan that it may carry out a preemptive attack on Syria’s missile launchers and CBW stockpiles in the event it determines that Syria is readying a launch. http://www.theatlantic.com/...
Two weeks ago, Turkey formally requested NATO Patriot anti-missile batteries on the border with Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/...
All this indicates that the regime change operations in Syria have reached an incredibly dangerous stage, and Pentagon, CIA and State Dept. officials never adequately planned for the worst-case violent end-phase in Syria, always reassuring the policymakers that they could pull off a nice, easy coup d'grace, a la Libya.
The CIA SAD and JSOC, along with the Israelis, are now publicly preparing a preemptive strike including special forces on the ground to take the launchers. For a close-up, on-the-ground view of the aftermath of a special forces attack on a Scud launcher in Libya last year that left the missiles and trucks largely intact, but nothing left of the crew other than neatly-lined up piles of entrails, see http://www.youtube.com/....
Such preemptive air or ground attacks, however, would set off scenario: 1) and then 2):
1) The Syrian leadership finds itself boxed into a “Use-'Em-or-Lose-'Em” Dilemma with regards to its missile forces and CBW stockpiles, and
2) As Israel, the US and possibly other countries begin decapitating air strikes and commando attacks on mobile missile transporters, the regime initiates a Deadman Trigger Scenario, that assures launch of at least some of its surviving warheads.
What makes the above scenarios frighteningly plausible is as follows.
The core problem with Syrian regime change is that even if Assad is removed, the rest of the Damascus government and high command are almost all members of the same Alawite sect and Ba'ath Party members, and the Sunni militias we and the Gulf Arabs back are hell-bent on killing them. So, even with Assad gone, his successors would also have no option other than to fight to the last or be exterminated, along with their families, by the Syrian Sunnis and foreign al-Qaeda fighters. Whoever planned and oversaw this operation -- Petraeus is one, there are many notable others -- ignored Kissinger’s prime directive of strategic engagement: always leave your opponent a mutually acceptable way out.
The fact that we have entered this stage in the game shows that initial expectations for regime change program in Syria were incredibly unrealistic. For those who have approved this policy, Syria is fast becoming an epoch, historical disaster.