Al-Qusayr: Assad’s last stand
Al-qusayr city has come to form the strategic tipping point in the ongoing struggle between the Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah on the one hand and the opposition on the other hand. Al-Qusayr, which is located some 35 km from the city of Homs is seen as a key source of threat to Homs. The fall of the city in the hands of fighters leads to their full control of Homs. Also, it is only 15 km from the Lebanese borders. For this reason, Hezbollah has been fighting tooth and nail to keep the city under the control of Assad troops. For Hezbollah and Assad, the city is a vital link between them. It is through this strategic city, the transfer of weapons has been conducted and Shiite Lebanese guerilla poured into Syria.
Obviously, a possible failure of Assad and Hezbollah in Al-Qusayr means that they also fail to impose a new reality or achieve a victory over the opposition to be used as a bargaining chip in the upcoming negotiations. For this reason, Assad, along with Hezbollah and Iran, has mobilized his forces to achieve a victory in a city with only 28,000 of its 45,000 population presently staying in. Since the battle is decisive, Nasrallah has exposed all of his cards when he exhibited his sectarian face and called on the youth of southern Lebanon to volunteer their services to defend the Assad regime.
Many regimes lost their legitimacy the moment they turned to violence, using the armed forces to repress their people. Interestingly, Hassan Nassrallah is still talking about resistance when he is nothing but an agent for Iran, serving its agendas in the region. Just recently, a televised footage that dates back to the early 1980s was leaked in which Nassrallah explained the way through which his party could serve the Iranian interests by playing up the animosity toward the United States and Israel. Therefore, the talk about resistance and the availability of an armed force inside Lebanon with far-reaching political consequence is a smokescreen that conceals the thinking of a Shiite entity that connects Iran, Iraq and Syria.
In this context, we are more interested in what is taking place on the ground. Clearly, there has been a weakness on the part of the international community. It has been doing nothing but watching and documenting the daily massacres of the Syrian people. Many start pondering weather the international community is waiting for Assad to finish off his people using chemical weapons or waiting for Hezbollah to kill Syrians who belong to different sects.
Many Syrians wonder that why the American president has not yet interfered or whether the US will ever intervene militarily in Syria to enforce a kind of no-fly zones in some specific areas. In addition to that, the American president has yet to decide whether or not to provide the Syrian opposition with weapons. And if yes, then what kind of opposition will Obama arm?
It is not as if the American administration is not following up the situation on the ground. On May 16, 2013, Obama stood next to Erdogan and said that his country had found evidence of the usage of chemical weapons in the ongoing war in Syria. He added that his country is in the business of gathering information on this particular point. Many pundits make the case that Assad has crossed the red lines delineated by Obama and Netanyahu. Adding salt to injury, Netanyahu failed to convince the Russian side not to send advanced missiles to Syria.
That said, changes on the ground could lead to either escalation or de-escalation. Assad is using everything at his disposal: Missiles, artillery, and air force. And yet, his forces and Hezbollah’s troops have taken a huge toll. At the same time, Washington and Tel Aviv continue arguing that Assad’s downfall is imminent and Bashar’s days are numbered.
It is worth noting that the administrations of Obama, Netanyahu, and Erdogan have failed to stop the Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian messing up in Syria or stop the naval and air aid given to Assad by his allies in Tehran and Moscow. We also noticed the silence of Washington, Tel Aviv and Amman when 3,000 Shiite fighters from Iraq entered into Syria. They all turned a blind eye to such provocative measure on part of Iraq. This demonstrates the impotence of Washington to deconstruct the axis of Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah. The United States has also been hesitant in attacking or dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah have been blackmailing the West by playing up the Israeli card. They insinuated the need to open a front with Israel in an attrition war. This is very important particularly with the revelation by the Israeli intelligence that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had ordered Qassim Suleimani — the leader of Al-Quds Brigade — to move part of his forces to Syria.
Observers see eye to eye with the argument that Washington will not strike the Iranian nuclear plants. By the same token, neither Iran nor Hezbollah will threaten the Israeli security. Things are getting clearer! It seems that the old American-Iranian-Iraqi scenario is being invoked. They may agree on making Assad a scapegoat, while introducing some cosmetic changes. But on the ground, there will be a separate force for Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, Kurds, Muslim Brotherhood and some other organizations. In this context, Syria will be internally fragile.
Evidently, Geneva II will lead to a military showdown in Syria. Therefore, the verbal threats uttered by Nassrallah are nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that his militant group is reeling from internal conflicts within Lebanon. Many Shiite youth see the party as a pawn for Iran. In fact, the victim will be the youth who have been brainwashed to get involved in a war that Assad stands to lose in the final analysis.
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