Tuesday 16 October 2012

“Push to drive Assad out by year’s end”

Generals Haj Ali (left) and Tlass

Gen. Manaf Tlass, the highest-level defector from the Syrian regime, is said today to be returning to Syria shortly to join the Syrian National Army (SNA) headed by Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hussein Haj Ali, the revolution’s new military top dog.
The exclusive news was made on Twitter by The 47th (@THE_47th), who has predicted several Syria developments in the past, including Tlass’ defection to France and visit to Saudi Arabia last July.
The 47th says Tlass (see my posts of July 18, July 25 and July 26) will be assuming a combat role after the October 26 Eid al-Adha marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
SNA commander Haj Ali is opposed to the creation of a no-fly zone over Syria or rebel held areas in the country. He told the leading Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat in an interview the measure has more cons than pros. “If we can secure the necessary weapons, we can get rid of this crumbling regime fairly quickly,” he said (see my posts of September 5 and September 6)
According to the 47th:
  • The United States, Turkey and opposition umbrella Syrian National Council (SNC) have given the armed opposition -- including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) led by Riad el-Asaad – an “ultimatum” to either join the SNA or be treated like outcasts.
  • Once the military overhaul and restructuring is out of the way, a “final push will be made against Assad.”
  • In view of that, an unnamed U.S. official “who knows Syria best” expects Assad to be out by year’s end at the cost of an extra “50,000 casualties.”

Syria watchers are linking the above to remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at yesterday’s Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, chiefly that “the United States will not wait for all members of this Council to get on the right side of history.”
Here is most what Rice said:
“…I’ll begin with Syria, where the horrifying situation is getting worse. Escalating violence, driven by the Assad regime, has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of Syrians. And there’s no clearer demonstration of the situation’s threat to regional peace and security than the Syrian government’s recent shelling of (Turkey’s villa) Akcakale, which this Council rightfully condemned.
As the violence and atrocities mount, the United States will not wait for all members of this Council to get on the right side of history. Together with our allies, we’re supporting the opposition as it moves toward an inclusive, democratic transition. We’re further pressuring the regime, and we are addressing the growing humanitarian needs in the region. At the same time, we continue to support the efforts of Joint Special Representative (Lakhdar) Brahimi to find a durable solution to this crisis.
As President Obama told the UN General Assembly last month, the future does not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. The regime of Bashar al-Assad will come to an end. Indeed, this transition is not just inevitable – it has already begun.
Assad’s merciless assault upon the Syrian people has not cowed them into submission, far from it. The opposition is getting stronger, and parts of Syria have slipped from the regime’s control. In these areas, Syrian citizens are banding together to administer towns, reopen schools, and rebuild their economy. And the United States is helping them do so, providing the unarmed civilian opposition with help to organize in support of the transition plan agreed in Cairo last July with its vision for a democratic, pluralistic Syria where all of its people have a say in how they’re governed.
More than one and a half million people have fled their homes, either to neighboring countries or to safer places within Syria. As refugee numbers climb, we commend Syria’s neighbors – including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq – for their generosity and recognize their need for additional support. The United States has committed over $130 million in food, medical supplies, and other life-saving assistance.
We encourage all Member States to respond to the needs identified in the UN’s Syria appeals and to coordinate closely with the United Nations in responding to the crisis. As Syrians plan for transition, we are looking for additional ways to support Syrian efforts to document serious violations of international law, including indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate targeting of civilians.
No one can deny that Assad’s war against the Syrian people now poses real challenges to all of Syria’s neighbors, including Lebanon. From deadly Syrian regime attacks across the border to tens of thousands of refugees, Lebanon is already suffering the consequences of this conflict.
Hezbollah’s active and growing support for Assad’s war exposes Hassan Nasrallah’s claims of promoting Lebanon’s national interest as nothing more than a deadly form of deception. The group’s leaders may try to change the subject by invoking hollow rhetoric about so-called resistance, but the truth is plain to see: Nasrallah’s fighters are now part of Assad’s killing machine and Hezbollah leaders continue to plot with Iran new measures to prop up a murderous and desperate dictator.
We encourage the international community to counter Hezbollah’s terrorist activity and do more to expose Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in Assad’s war…”