May 29, 2015
- The Crisis of the Assad Regime – Jeffrey White
Regular Syrian army units and irregular units alike appear to lack offensive spirit and are even showing signs of halfhearted defense. Even strong defensive positions such as Wadi Daif and Hamadiya and the Mastumah military camp in Idlib province have fallen surprisingly quickly. Regime units such as Republican Guard formations, the “Tiger Force,” and the “Desert Hawks” are still capable of serious fighting, but these represent less than 10% of Syrian forces and have only a limited capability to affect the broad military situation.
While the regime still enjoys advantages in terms of aircraft, heavy armor, and artillery, opposition forces are now heavily armed with weapons taken from regime forces and some key systems (e.g., antitank guided missiles) provided from external sources.
Regime military capabilities are on the decline. Intervention by its allies has prevented this trend from becoming fatal, but that may be unsustainable. U.S. policymakers are given to saying the Syrian conflict has no military solution, but in fact such a “solution” is emerging. The writer is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Rumors of the Assad Regime’s Demise Are Overstated – Phillip Smyth
Rumors of the Assad regime’s impending demise are greatly overstated. Iranian-backed foreign-fighter recruitment and deployment have increased dramatically. Early in 2014, the deployment of pro-Assad foreign fighters hit a significant snag when thousands of Iraqi Shiite militiamen started returning to Iraq following the Islamic State’s gains there. However, Hizbullah soon picked up the slack.
Hizbullah’s military deployments within Syria have expanded along with its increased numbers. Following the melting of the winter snows, Hizbullah launched a major offensive in the Qalamoun region. Since May 1, it has announced the deaths of 35 of its fighters. (Foreign Policy)
- Hizbullah’s Desperate Recruiting Drive – Myra Abdallah
Hizbullah has been losing ground in Syria. According to the LebaneseAl-Modon, in pro-Hizbullah circles, “words are being whispered about great losses. Some people have gone even further and said that the size of losses in Syria exceeds the total losses incurred by the party since the beginning of its conflict with the enemy [Israel] in 1982.” Consequently, Hizbullah has started to take unusual measures, recruiting heavily, including teenagers, to uphold its Syrian front. Several Bekaa Valley residents confirmed that a lot of young men have joined Hizbullah’s military specifically for the money, with amounts ranging between $500 and $2,000. (NOW-Lebanon)
- Hizbullah’s War of Survival – Zvi Bar’el
Hizbullah is trying to recruit Palestinians from refugee camps to fight in Syria for $400 a month. At the same time there are reports of weakening discipline in Hizbullah ranks, weapon thefts and a massive transfer of Hizbullah money to European banks. Iran reportedly intends to investigate what happened to the huge financial assistance it has given Hizbullah. (Ha’aretz)
Nusra Front Leader in Syria Calls for Hizbullah’s Ouster from Lebanon – Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
Abu Mohammed al-Golani, head of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, told Al-Jazeera on Wednesday: “The defeat of Hizbullah is only a matter of time. Once Bashar Assad falls, [Hizbullah] will move south. Even its position in the Dhahiyeh [Beirut’s southern suburb and a Hizbullah stronghold] will become tenuous. This will happen without us even intervening in Lebanon.”
Golani then called on “all parties in Lebanon” to participate in Hizbullah’s ouster.
The word “Israel” was not uttered by Golani even once during the entire interview.
(Click on the title of any article to see the whole article…Ed.)