Syrian Crackdown Accelerates

Over the past several months, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has wavered between trying to appease protestors and cracking down on them. Neither tactic has been particularly effective.

Today, it seems the current President has finally reverted to the tactics his father employed so ruthlessly, yet effectively, in the 1980s, when he killed nearly 20,000 people in Hama.

Residents of Dara’a, a town of 75,000 people in southern Syria, reported that at least 8 tanks moved into the town at dawn accompanied by 4,000 to 6,000 troops. However, other estimates pointed to troop numbers in the hundreds.

Depending on the mission of Syrian forces, the ideal ratio to maintain an occupation of the town would be 1 soldier for every 25 civilians based an old RAND study of occupied Germany and Japan. Such an operation would therefore require about 3,000 troops.

That said, the number of troops is likely in the hundreds if the eight tanks observed are any indication of the mission’s overall effort. Since Syrian forces are typically arrayed in the old Soviet model, 8-10 tanks are indicative of a Motorized Rifle Battalion-sized element, which would likely include 300-400 infantrymen.

Either way, the deployment of armor is a noteworthy escalation in the crisis, which leads one to believe that the “peaceful” protestors may actually be well-armed. Based on the posture of the soldiers in the above BBC video, it seems clear that the Syrian Army is fighting an armed opposition.

Like Libya, it appears Syria is either in the midst or on the verge of a full-blown civil war, with the country Alawite ruling minority fighting for its survival against the Sunni majority.

Like Libya, there does not seem to be a good side, only two sides bent on exterminating each other.

Rather than intervening, the best policy for the United States would be to let Syria exhaust its resources in trying to put down an internal rebellion. Choosing one side over the other would be foolish at this point.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
This entry was posted in Defense, Energy Security, International Security, Middle East, Policy, Politics, Predictions, Terrorism, War and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Syrian Crackdown Accelerates

  1. pino says:

    Today, it seems the current President has finally reverted to the tactics his father employed so ruthlessly, yet effectively, in the 1980s, when he killed nearly 20,000 people in Hama.

    Rather than intervening, the best policy for the United States would be to let Syria exhaust its resources in trying to put down an internal rebellion. Choosing one side over the other would be foolish at this point.

    If not for the impending election, I am sure this would distress Obama. He lives for the rebel, the oppressed rising up. And yet he knows that he can’t go into Syria in the way in which he went into Libya.

    Damn elections.

  2. I certainly can’t see much to recommend Assad, but I don’t want us involved in this.

    • Agreed. If you choose Assad, you get the Gestapo. If you choose the opposition, you get al Qaeda. Both are extreme caricatures, of course. That said, there is no need for the US to waste valuable resources defending one “bad” guy against another.

      Many of these Sunnis happily got on buses heading south to fight the “American imperilialists” in 2003.

      I have no problem with Assad slaughtering them. He’ll handle them a lot rougher than the United States would.

      • Scott Erb says:

        I do not believe the average Syrian civilian is al qaeda, or that the people Assad will kill are all anti-Americans who headed to Iraq to fight the imperialists. Most will be innocent average Syrians wanting a better life, most will not be extremists. I think al qaeda’s strength has been vastly over estimated, and we should not fear the opposition. However, I agree that we should not get involved militarily. These obsolete corrupt tyrannies cannot last, we have to be prepared for a new Mideast at some point — maybe in a few years, or a decade, but it will happen.

        • Scott,

          I agree that not every Sunni in Syria is bad. My only point is that many of them hate the United States just as much as they hate Assad. Furthermore, the “protests” have become an armed rebellion. For the media to portray the event as one-sided is disingenuous. After the Turks massacred tens of thousands of Alawis, the Alawis know from historical experience that it is either victory or death.

          I am not excusing Assad’s actions, just providing a context for them. They live in a bad neighborhood where the law of the jungle reigns.

  3. Nobody says:

    The last two posts on my blog are about Syria and Libya by the way. If you are interested in this stuff

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