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Syrian Rebels Losing Big in Qusayr

May 26th, 2013

Michael Collins

Events in Syria are overtaking the plans of the Western powers and Gulf oils states to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. An outright victory by the Syrian Army against rebels in a nearly concluded battle close to the Syria-Lebanon border could be a major turning point in the conflict. (Image)

The Times of Oman, May 25 reported that the Syrian Army and fighters from Hezbollah in Lebanon have encircled Syrian rebels in the critical town of Qusayr. The town is just across the Lebanon-Syria border, a strategic entry point for fighters and weapons vital to the rebel cause. The report from Oman and one of the key sources, the Syrian Observatory, give credibility to events as reported since both are viewed as sympathetic to the rebel cause.

In the meantime, negotiations in Switzerland designed to bring a peaceful solution to the conflict are stalling on the rebel side. The various groups are unable to pick a delegation and settle on an agenda. According to Russian sources, Assad has agreed to send representatives to the upcoming conference in Geneva sponsored by the United States and Russia.

A Syrian government victory in Qusayr could change the balance enough to make the negotiations meaningless. The rebels would lose their supply route for weapons and fighters and their position in the town of Homs would be compromised. This would leave the Turkish border as the only supply route for external aid.

With a victory at Qusayr, the al-Assad government would be glad to attend a peace conference but unlikely to negotiate from anything other than a position of strength. A victory at Qusayr would nullify the main goal of the western powers, the political rub out of Syria's elected president, Bashar al-Assad. Why would he agree to step down if he's on his way to a string of victories with support from his new allies from Lebanon, Hezbollah?

The focus on the upcoming peace conference by Secretary of State Kerry, the Turkish government, and EU states may be a face-saving surrender in response to the inability to get rid of al-Assad. The key rebel demand, the removal of Assad and his government, won't be honored. What head of state agrees to leave power particularly when his military is winning a protracted civil war?

By focusing on a peace conference the U.S. and EU can say "We tried" or, maybe, "We tried but the rebels couldn't even elect a representative for the conference."

With the rebels in a state of disarray, the advantages of a false flag operation fade as well. Perhaps the worst outcome for supportive foreign powers would be a rebel victory followed by internal fighting betw=en home-grown rebel groups and al Qaeda and other foreign backed factions.


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