[Shashank Joshi] “If state authority were not established within a reasonable period after collapse, the longer-term prospects for a democratic, stable Syria would shrink even further, because local militias would gain in strength, helped along by foreign powers eager to cultivate clients – a process familiar to us from Lebanon’s civil war. What is clear is that the past few weeks’ series of defections, assassinations, and the loosening grip of Damascus all indicate an ever-narrowing base of support, and a high probability of sudden and unpredictable collapse.”
A veteran Beirut-based diplomat agreed: “The Alawite issue in the transition needs to be addressed in a very clear way. There has been nothing done by anyone, ourselves included, to give them the comfort they need. The Christians as well, for that matter.”
One way to avoid the abyss is the anointing of a hardman to take over. Defected general Manaf Tlass, a former friend of the Assad family, is a potential candidate. The lessons of Iraq dictate that former regime figures cannot afford to be sidelined when a new state is built. Tlass has yet to reveal his hand, but he – and others like him, who waited many months before defecting – are increasingly being treated with suspicion.
“These people should be engaged and integrated,” said Tarif. “There are other officers like him who must play a role. Order is preferable to chaos.”
The speed and tempo of events - and coordinating ‘preventive’ - sustaining measures (and gimmicks and tricks) -
I want to imagine it’s possible to minimize internal casualties and spillovers (to Lebanon and Iraq etc)
But just less than a month before, the world of diplomacy was characterized as ‘no one wants to assume the responsibility’ (Because it is so difficult and risky to ‘be in charge’ of post-Assad or transitioning (civil-war state) Syria.)
Hope it’s going manageable. Though, first two days of casualties total from first 2 days of FSA incursion into Damascus has been reported to be the highest. (While people are fleeing.)