Syria: The Bodyguard Of Lies


April 11, 2012: Syrian rebels claim over a thousand have died since the government agreed to negotiate a cease fire deal on March 27th. More than 10,000 have been killed since the rebellion began in early 2011. The rebels accuse the government of using the cease fire negotiations as a way to delay foreign intervention. Most foreign countries are inclined to agree. The government blew past the original April 10th deadline (to begin withdrawing troops from urban areas) and seems unlikely to meet the deadline tomorrow. Few people, in or out of Syria, ever expected the government to meet this deadline anyway. The Syrian government claims that the ceasefire won't exist unless the rebels disarm. It is believed that the government is determined to delay foreign intervention for as long as possible, while trying to suppress the rebels by identifying and hunting down the leadership. But many of the rebel leaders are now outside the country and the rebellion is so widespread that new leaders tend to appear to replace those killed or arrested. Yet the government sees that as an advantage because so many of the rebels are strangers to each other. Rebels are complaining about corruption and incompetence within their own ranks, especially among those rebels outside Syria, who are supposed to be obtaining weapons and equipment. More frequently the supplies don't arrive and the money disappears, along with those entrusted with it. Those rebels who have known each other for some time have trust but all others are suspect. This makes cooperation difficult especially as so many long-time opponents of the government are killed or arrested.

Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are threatening to supply arms and other aid to the rebels. Syria believes this is already happening covertly. The Saudis blame Russia for preventing international cooperation and armed intervention in Syria. Russia is burning a lot of bridges in the Arab world because of its pro-Iran stance. Some Russian leaders are beginning to oppose this approach, but so far the senior Russians (Putin and company) are sticking with Iran and the Assads.

The Syrian rebels are still active and appear to grow more numerous and dangerous each month. Troops and police are constantly being shot at or ambushed. Government efforts to deny the rebel fighters hiding places have now led to entire neighborhoods being burned down. But the rebel gunmen keep at it.

Russia insists that, even with outside assistance, the Syrian security forces could hold out for years. This is true as long as Iran can supply billions in cash each year to pay for smuggled goods and weapons for the government. But Iran is also suffering under numerous embargoes and having economic problems. If the Iranian cash aid disappears, the Assads will be in big trouble.

Syrian troops again fired across the Turkish border, at refugees the Syrians insist are armed rebels (some are, most aren't). The Turks threaten retaliation if this keeps up. Syrian border guards are apparently trying to discourage the smugglers (bringing in weapons and other goods) as well as armed foreigners seeking to join the rebels. Most of these are coming in via Lebanon and Iraq. Many of the foreigners are Islamic radicals, who are not all that popular in Syria.

April 9, 2012: Syrian troops fired across the Lebanese and Turkish borders. A Lebanese TV journalist was killed, as well as two Syrian refugees in Turkey.

April 8, 2012:  The government demanded written guarantees from the rebels that rebel fighters would lay down their weapons if Syrian troops withdrew from rebellious towns and cities. The rebels refused.

April 7, 2012:  Over 700 Syrians fled to refugee camps in Turkey today. The number of daily refugees keeps increasing and is often close to a thousand a day.

April 4, 2012: The government announced that it had begun withdrawing troops, ahead of schedule. But it was a lie. Meanwhile, the first UN peacekeepers arrived in Syria. According to the peace deal, hundreds of unarmed peacekeepers are to monitor the withdrawal of Syrian forces and general security in rebel controlled areas. That is supposed to allow for a negotiation to the end of the rebellion. But most Syrians want the Assad family and their cronies out, and the Assad clan does not intend to leave.

April 3, 2012: Turkey repeated warnings to its citizens to stay out of Syria and to get out if they are still there.

April 2, 2012: The government agreed to a ceasefire deal after a week of negotiations with the UN. Government troops will begin withdrawing on the 10th and complete that on the 12th, when unarmed UN peacekeepers will patrol the borders between government and rebel held territory.

April 1, 2012: A “Friends of the Syrian People” coalition, from 70 nations, met in Turkey and pledged $100 million in non-lethal aid for the Syrian rebels. This included $12 million from the United States. But the rebels want weapons and foreign intervention, as in Libya. The Syrian government declared that it had defeated the rebels. This was widely seen as another propaganda ploy.




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