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NATO, Russia say Assad's fall imminent

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Both NATO and Russia are sounding the death knell for Assad's regime in Syria. The move is significant because both sides agree, and Russia has been reticent to suggest that Assad could fall.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (Catholic Online) - NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels while announcing the deployment of Patriot missile systems to Turkey, that he believes the Syrian regime is close to collapse.

This is similar to statements made by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, who said that he felt rebel victory was imminent.

"We need to look the facts in the eye," the official RIA Novosti news quoted Bogdanov as saying. "Unfortunately, we cannot exclude a victory by the rebels."

In Brussels, Rasmussen urged the Syrian regime to end the conflict and recognize the aspirations of the Syrian people.

Meanwhile, in Syria, the rebels announced major gains following their recognition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Their most recent reports claim they have taken a military base and are preparing for a final assault on Damascus.

The rebels said they know their final assault will not be easy, warning that the regime will continue, and possibly escalate, their brutal tactics to stop rebel progress. The warning may be hinting at fears that Assad will deploy chemical weapons in his final days.

While the death knell sounds for Assad's regime, attention is starting to shift to what will happen after the final rebel victory. For after that moment, the rebels will no longer be rebels, but rather the new government of Syria. However, that government will be seriously divided among various factions whose only commonality was hatred of Assad's regime.

A similar situation exists in Egypt where significant groups have been cut out of the process of writing a new constitution and feel disenfranchised. Amid such feelings, new conflicts can take root.

In addition to international fears about protracted civil conflict in Syria, there are also worries about the nation's strategic resources and outstanding contracts. Deals made under the Assad regime may not be honored or renewed. Russia in particular, may find itself left out since that country openly supported Assad's hated regime and effectively prolonged the conflict by blocking diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution that would remove Assad.

Iran will also likely be cut out, which will significantly diminish its influence in the region.

However, the west should not expect Syria to be a ready ally either. Despite repeated calls for help, the West, worried about escalating the conflict and the extremist nature of some of the rebel groups, has done only the minimum to support the movement.

What Syria does in the aftermath of Assad is of great concern to the world, but for today, few in Syria share that concern, for Assad still lives, and presumably commands, a terrible force that must be reckoned with in the days to come.

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