There are two opinions prevailing on Syria today as to what will happen to Assad. Many seem to agree that his end is near, but some believe he will survive this tragic episode in Syrian history to remain in power.
In either case, what will happen to the large depository of conventional weapons in Syria? How does their use today affect the future of Syria within the context of the Alawite minorities taking control of the weapons for self-protection?Â
Syria is one of the largest weapon depots in the world; all in the service of few members of one family. Much is antiquated if it had to face the modernity of the weapons of today but still deadly if used against civilians or an army with similar weaponry. Here is a detailed accounting of the conventional weapons Syria possesses, almost all were provided by the old Soviet Bloc.
Whether Assad believes he can survive or not, he will need easy access to these weapons. We should not count on the regime making any contingency plans to neutralize this large arsenal because it still believes it can survive this Revolution. That’s the real tragedy facing Syria in the near future.
But the Iranians, with a clearer mind, may move some to Lebanon to augment the pile Hezbollah already has acquired illegally and some will be moved to the Sahel region where the Alawites, already heavily armed, will control as a defensive measure in an uncertain future.Â
One has to assume, however, that the sudden fall of Assad will mean the arsenal he controls may fall in the hands of a young Sunni population trained in its use and out for revenge.
That’s the main reason why NATO must find a way to control these weapons if Syria is to be saved from a looming civil war. Don’t count on the Syrian civilians, under duress, to obey any rules. The jungle brute war Assad started will continue after the Syrian street wins this battle no matter the efforts exercised today by the world community and the US State Department.
Let’s be realistic about the deep anger Syrians feel. Not only because they were systematically butchered by Assad but also because the international community and the Arab League abandoned them to the Assad killing machine for too long.
The Syrian street will ignore all pleas not to retaliate against the Alawites the way the world ignored their pleas to save them from Assad. Ultimately, two innocent civilian communities will pay the heaviest of price and that’s when we recognize how appeasement fails humanity the way it failed six million Jews in WWII.Â In this violent world of ours, only determined use of force saves lives in the long run.Â
Had the Bush administration moved swiftly to change the Assad regime in 2003-2004, Iran would be weaker, less Americans would have died in Iraq, and Syria would be far better today than the dim prospects ahead of us.
I hope former Secretary Condi Rice reads this Blog. Â
To avoid that scenario and the possible chaos after the fall of the regime the Syrian opposition should elect a strong substitute with a clear agenda that is accepted from inside and outside stakeholders, which is the same that Hilary Clinton repeatedly suggested, yet the Syrian opposition failed to do this or to even get the recognition from other Arab countries.
It’s hard for the Syrian opposition to unite because of the diversity of Syria and because of historical baggage. Right now, the Arab league is driving the Syrian agenda, but given its tendency to promote a ‘form’ similar to one embraced by their own members, after Assad, Syria will switch from a secular dictatorship to an Islamist dictatorship.