COMMENTARY | Syrian dictator Bashir Assad has not been able to quell the rebellion his regime is facing, despite several months of indiscriminate killing and mayhem. Now the Syrian Revolution may be entering a new phase with the defection of a Syrian general.
According to Gateway Pundit, Major General Riad El As’ad has defected to the rebels with a number of other Syrian Army officers and has announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army. The mission of the Free Syrian Army will be to protect the Syrian people from the assaults being conducted upon them by the Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies. The ultimate goal would be the overthrow of the regime and its replacement by a democratic government.
With that in mind, General El As’ad is urging Syrian soldiers to join the Free Syrian Army and fight against the regime.
It is unknown yet how many Syrian Army troops will follow these officers. However it would seem that the formation of an armed force fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime would provide an opportunity for the United States, should it decide to take it.
The policy of President Ronald Reagan in the Cold War was to arm and support rebel forces in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola and Central America fighting against Soviet backed regimes. This was part of a strategy that eventually brought about the fall of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War.
President George W. Bush landed special operations troops into Afghanistan during the first weeks after 9/11 to support the remnants of the Mujahedeen forces that had beaten the Red Army and was then fighting against the Taliban to overthrow the Taliban regime. This strategy proved to be initially successful, however the American led coalition and the new Afghan government is now engaged in a grinding insurgency against Taliban guerillas fighting to restore its theocratic regime.
Arming and supporting the Free Syrian Army might prove to be an effective strategy to not only overthrow the Assad regime, but to deny Iran, and implacable enemy of both the United States and Israel, an ally in the Arab world. This would inhibit Iran’s ability to support terrorism in the Middle East, possibly establish a peace agreement between the new Syrian government and Israel, and create a new American ally in the war on terror.
The question arises, will the Obama administration seize the opportunity? Or will it continue to slumber where Syria and the rebellion taking place there are concerned?
Sources: Syria’s Assad Faces Human Rights Protesters, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 30, 2011
Top Syrian Generals Defect ‘” Announce Formation of Free Syrian Army to Fight Assad, John Hoft, Gateway Pundit, July 31, 2011