Latakia Is Assad's Achilles Heel

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Fabrice Balanche - Why are Russian troops being sent to Latakia and not Tartus, site of the official Russian military base? In 2010, the population of Latakia was about 400,000 - 50% Alawite, 40% Sunni, and 10% Christian. According to the UN, Latakia is now hosting 200,000 internally displaced persons, mostly Sunnis. During July and August 2015, a rebel offensive in the al-Ghab plain threatened Latakia, and the risk of a Sunni uprising in Latakia still exists. By contrast, in Tartus, Alawites constitute 80% of the population. A rebel army could find strong support from Sunni residents of Latakia, many of whom have long dreamed of revenge for regime efforts to impose Alawite control over the city. Moreover, many Russians are living in Latakia. Assad's army can no longer defend Latakia and Russian troops are needed to protect the city. Nor can Assad defend Damascus without the support of Hizbullah and Iran. The writer is an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2.

2015-09-24 00:00:00

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