This just in from Xinhuanet.com:
Russia denies Syrian army on brink of collapse
English.news.cn 2012-11-01 21:08:49
MOSCOW, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Claims Syrian government forces had disintegrated were exaggerated, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Thursday.
Some experts had said Syrian government troops could not confront the rebels, but the current situation proved they were wrong, Serdyukov told reporters after returning from Paris, where he participated in the Russia-France Security Cooperation Council with Russian and French foreign ministers and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.
The French side agreed with Russia there was no military solution to the crisis in Syria, he said.
"(Syrian president) Bashar al-Assad won't step down voluntarily, as this is equal to suicide. He will fight till the end," Serdyukov said. More...
The fact that he has to deny at all that the Syrian army is on the brink of collapse, the sudden interest in the international community in a ceasefire in Syria
, the new Chinese proposal
and the US shift away from the Syrian National Council
are all testaments to the changing facts on the ground in Syria.
Hidden within the endless diplomatic wrangling and seeming stalemate on the ground, two facts remain: Assad keeps on killing and the Free Syrian Army keeps on winning.
Assad has been banking on a strategy of collective punishment to defeat his opposition. Like the bad guy in the movie that says "If you resist, we will kill you and the man standing next to you," he is betting that a policy of wanton slaughter in opposition communities will force those demanding that he be tried for war crimes give up.
And since his ground troops have proven unreliable, they tend to defect, he has opted to carry out this policy of mass slaughter mostly with the modern long range weapons of mass slaughter, bombs, missiles and artillery shells directed at civilians targets like people waiting in line for bread.
He is having it his way, killing hundreds of Syrians everyday, and nobody in this "international community" is making him stop, not even keeping his jets from dropping cluster bombs on civilian neighborhoods. For a government to do this to its own people is no longer unprecedented.
But he is not winning it his way. It's been months now and he hasn't been able to dislodge the Free Syrian Army from Aleppo. In fact, they have been gaining ground, and now they have managed to cut a major supply route to Assad's forces in Aleppo.
And this focus on retaking Aleppo has also caused him to lose ground almost everywhere else in the country.
While Assad would have us believe that a handful of foreign jhadists are responsible for all his troubles, he has increasingly had to rely on shooters from the Iranian Guard and Hezbollah to do his killing because if he doesn't keep many of his own soldiers on a very short leash, they tend to defect. And since a defecting Syrian soldier doesn't have the easy option of going to Canada and starting a new life, more often than not, the Syrian Army's loss is the Free Syrian Army's gain.
This sort of thing has a way of reaching a tipping point. The Russian Defense Minister is assuring us that we are not there yet while UN envoy Brahimi has begun a hurried campaign to get a ceasefire in place before that tipping point is reached.
That is because the Free Syrian Army is on the verge of winning what the Syrian people are demanding, an end to the rule of Bashar al-Assad and his whole regime.
Wrap up the lot!
Whereas, this "international community" rather likes Assad. He is someone they can work with. He's one of them. They would rather not see the murderous bastard go. If he has to go, so be it, but they certainly don't want the machinery of state power tinkered with too much.
They may play the "opposing" roles of "bad cop" and "good cop" when it comes to Syria but there really isn't that much difference between the Chinese position that, as stated by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,
To ensure a safe, stable and calm transition, the continuity and effectiveness of Syria's governmental institutions must be maintained.
and the US position as stated by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
when Assad leaves, and he will leave, to try to preserve stability in that country. The best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military and police as you can, along with security forces...
They have had differences in the past about the future of Bashar al-Assad, they may still have, but they are in agreement about the need to preserve his oppressive and murderous state machinery.
That puts them on the same side in this conflict and that side is opposed to the Syrian people's struggle to rid themselves of both Bashar al-Assad and his whole murderous regime.
Here are my related diaries on Syria:
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