How Assad Is Winning

(New York Review of Books) Charles Glass - No one denies that the Assad regime is winning the war. It owes its ascendancy as much to its opponents' disunity and incompetence as to its own effectiveness. Rebel policy, whichever group was involved, was to seize and hold terrain for as long as possible in violation of every tenet of guerrilla warfare. But opposition fighters failed to shield people from the regime's sieges and assaults as well as the misbehavior of their own "rogue elements." The rebels also failed to build a solid coalition within the population and create effective alliances among their more than a thousand armed bands. The government promised to end its assaults if the rebel forces departed. To obtain food, water, electricity, and a respite from bombardment, the local people put pressure on their self-proclaimed defenders to leave. The UN estimated that 700,000 people remained under siege in 15 areas as of Jan. 16. Armed militants from many rival Sunni groups, including Faylaq al-Sham, Jaish al-Fustat, and Jaysh al-Islam, have yet to give up, but their front line is static and mostly quiet. Some Damascus suburbs remain redoubts for indigenous rebel factions. Syrian rebels and foreign jihadis retain control of Idlib province. Islamic State and Jabha Fateh al-Sham, the al-Qaeda branch, remain resilient and immune to civilian pleas for an end to the ordeal. They are not part of the discussion about ending the war and will not go quietly.

2017-02-08 00:00:00

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