Syria’s Assad on Western Military Strike: We Shall Be Victorious
By: Nasser Charara
Published Thursday, August 29, 2013
Damascus today is a hive of activity. The hotlines to the capitals of its allies are operating around the clock. As efforts to muster a spirit of national defiance continue, it is becoming clearer to the Syrians, now more than ever, that their crisis has many foreign roots.
Addressing senior military leaders in a recent meeting, President Bashar al-Assad said, “Since the beginning of the crisis, we have been waiting for the moment that our real enemy rears his head and intervenes. I know your morale is high and that you are fully ready to contain any aggression and safeguard the homeland. But I call on you to communicate this morale to your subordinates and Syrian citizens. Indeed, this is a historic confrontation in which we shall emerge victorious.”
How Damascus Sees the Situation
A well-placed Syrian source said that Damascus believes a military strike against Syria will in all probability take place. However, according to the source, this development has not come as a surprise to the Syrian leadership. Ever since Washington brought up the issue of chemical weapons, the regime realized that the United States was preparing to use it as a pretext to justify its military aggression.
The Massacre at Beit al-Shukuhi
The same source maintained, “Fabricating the lie that the regime had used chemical weapons is not convincing; it is reminiscent of the nuclear fabrications in Iraq.”
The source drew attention to the paradox that emerged on the day the West was making allegations about chemical weapons. An hour before Arab and international news channels were providing wall-to-wall coverage of the alleged attack, Syrian TV was carrying live images of mass graves discovered by the army in the town of Beit al-Shukuhi, in the northern countryside of Latakia.
The mass graves contained the bodies of 120 women and 50 children who were taken hostage after a raid on their village by the Libyan, Chechen, and Saudi brigades, in addition to the Grandsons of the Prophet Brigade and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
As the Arab and Western media focused all their attention on the alleged chemical massacre in eastern Ghouta, the horrific discovery at Beit al-Shukuhi was largely ignored by international public opinion.
In the view of the same source, the chemical weapons allegations were not based on credible evidence. He argued that there was no crime scene to be examined, with the opposition claiming that at least 10 sites in eastern Ghouta, an area containing at least 120 villages, came under chemical attack.
The source said that the opposition rushed to show images of people killed ostensibly by chemical toxins, after wrapping them in burial robes and transporting them from the supposed crime scene.
All the UN inspectors did during their first visit was to meet some victims to examine their injuries, and verify they were the result of chemical toxins, before beginning to draft their report.
Today, the Syrian leadership is recalling the details of how the US fabricated allegations regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, but stress that Syria is not Iraq. In the latter, the source argued, Washington knew that if Baghdad fell, all of Iraq would fall. But to control Syria, he added, the US would need to enter every village and town.
Syria’s Vision for the Confrontation
The source said that anyone who speaks to President Assad about the expected battle might find it hard to explain the reason behind his belief in certain victory – whether it is based on the president’s personal feelings or facts on the ground.
“Syria has developed a three-level plan for confrontation: first, containing the aggression; second, responding by hitting back in a painful place; and third, [acting on the basis that] the Americans or NATO would not dare send boots on the ground,” said the source.
“The overall experience of Israeli and Western aggression in the past three decades has left them with a clear understanding that the new generation of major conflicts cannot be won from the air or through long-range missiles, but by sending in ground forces and holding territory.”
“We expect to see the pre-planned scenarios being implemented by known Arab satellite channels, to supplement aerial and land bombardment from the outset with media bombardment, in order to undermine the people’s morale and try to win the battle through the media before it ends on the ground.”
The Syrian source, who has been familiar with the regime’s thinking from the beginning of the crisis, said that the regime believes a US war in Syria would fail because it would mark a repeat of the experience of George W. Bush.
In the regime’s view as well, the United States still lacks a clear strategy in Syria. While US President Barack Obama has known stances on President Assad, this did not translate into a well-defined policy vis-à-vis the complex geopolitical crisis in Syria.
The Yemeni Model
In Damascus, they expect for NATO to wage a war that follows the Yemeni model, rather than the Libyan model. In practice, this would see the United States conducting a strategic first strike against Syrian army posts that act as a buffer separating armed opposition pockets.
Indeed, one goal could be to allow besieged opposition forces to restore their ability to join forces and spread out, in a way that would return them to their positions prior to the battle of Qusayr and the Syrian army offensives in the Damascus countryside, Homs, and Aleppo.
The second major goal of a strike would be to act as a precursor for a sustained, long-term military intervention in Syria, following the Yemeni model.
The United States might want the world to become accustomed to the idea of US drones carrying out strikes against selected targets in Syria from time to time. One target could be Assad himself, as assassinating him would remove a major obstacle facing Geneva II in the eyes of the West and some Arab countries.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.