Friday, July 6, 2012

High level defection from, and heavy battles in, Syria

The BBC, CBS and other are reporting this morning that Syrian Republican Guard Brigadier General Manaf Tlass has "defected" to France via Turkey.  According to CBS:
Brig Gen Manaf Tlass
The al-Arabiya television network quoted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as saying the defected general was already on his way to Paris, where he is known to have many personal connections, and where the international "Friends of Syria" conference was taking place.
Say again?!   An acting Brigadier General of the Syrian Republican guard was "known to have many personal friends" in Paris and amongst the participants of a conference which is clearly organized and run by the US CIA?!  Any the (in)famous Syrian Mukhabarat did not find that a sufficient cause to at the very least have him removed from his position and investigated?

Looking at this grinning play-boy with the obligatory cigar in his mouth I am reminded of my good Syrian friends who more than 10 years ago were telling me how incompetent and corrupt the Syrian regime was and how its security services were feared, but only by regular people, not the regime's elites.

By the way, Tlass is not Alawite, but Sunni.  Just saying...

On a related topic, I just watched a report by Russian TV crews from the Syrian city of Duma, near Damascus.  The city was recently retaken by government forces following many days of battle against al-Qaeda units and the footage made by the Russian TV crews of the ruins of Duma reminds me of similarly looking images of Grozny after the eviction of the Chechen insurgency.  Clearly, these were heavy battles against much more than just a few "snipers" or "terrorists".   The Syrian government soldiers interviewed by Russian reporters said that their opponents were very well trained (in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq) and that they were also very well armed.

I hope that I am mistaken in my hunch, but it sure looks to me like the regime is in very bad shape and could begin crumbling apart.

The Saker