There is an eerie predictability about the demise of Presdient Assad's Syrian regime. I have no doubt that his authority is ebbing away daily through a combination of four things:
- greater organisation by the Syrian opposition groups, who are resolving to fight the common enemy, even though they cannot get on with each other
- an increasing stranglehold by the opposition on the key capital city of Damascus
- greater weaponry for the opposition, whether it is captured from Assad or given by overseas Arab powers, and
- key defections from his own side: only this week the head of the Military Police defected to Turkey and sided with the rebels: see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9766131/Head-of-Syrias-military-police-becomes-latest-to-defect-to-join-the-rebel-uprising.html
What is clear is that between 50,000-100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak in March 2011 of an
anti-regime revolt; the insurgency is not backed by specific British action and there is little that the UK could do, even if it wanted to, given the complexities that exist in this conflict.
The concern that really troubles the western powers is the possibility of the use and general deployment of chemical weapons. If a country wants to fight itself that is one thing. The age old question of "the extent to which the UK is the world's policeman" comes to mind? Are we willing to risk British soldiers and British financial resources to pick and then support one faction, or collective group, in a domestic civil war - however much we detest what the Assad government is doing? I do not believe so. There is no UN Directive and a split international view prevails leading to a lack of any Mandate; therefore, my strong belief is that any British involvement would cause more trouble than it would solve and we must sit by, and be ready to assist when this bloody civil war resolves itself. But it will be tragic viewing. And the conflict is already spilling over into Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. The Middle East is entering a year of great danger and uncertainty. Syria will be the first to resolve but Iran will still be the biggest concern.