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July 10, 2013

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Iran doesn't spend that much on the military, IIRC.

I don't think the danger of Assad staying was ever about the strength of the country, before the uprising or after. The danger of Assad and the deep state staying is primarily the greater lack of cooperativeness in regional matters, and much fewer levers present to gain cooperation. As in, the guys who are left, are much, much more loyal to the state. This stage of the uprising is fundamentally about Western and Gulf states insuring that they have an overriding voice in Damascus the way they do in Cairo. Any dreams of pipelinistan through a friendly Syria has long shuffled its mortal coil.

I do not think the fighting can go on much longer though, because I think the rebels are working on ever weaker levels of public credibility. It just doesn't matter much how many guns you have if the public in the cities hate you. You need lots of internal security guys to handle that, not just guns. Operational security is probably minimal at this point, so the only real barrier to success for the Syrian Arab Army is the lack of manpower to roll everything up.

At this point, the chief danger of continued support is probably arab street sentiment. I also think while the gulf states can't be bled dry, they are, in fact, getting a mite over-extended in the face of a regional increase in volatility. Remember, they're holding together broken states like Pakistan and Yemen, while "investing" in states like Turkey or Tunisia.

I never thought that you were in favor of arming the rebels or putting American boots on the ground at this point; you're way too smart for that. I did think that you and Doug seemed way too complacent about what seems to me to be a very risky situation. It is possible that I am simply alarmist.

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