Saturday, October 29, 2011

India and the Syrian Imbroglio: Part 2

The conclusion in the GCC is that a civil war will strengthen the Asaad regime and allow his regime to last longer. This is why from the beginning the KSA has been telling the US that they don't want the MB in power in Syria (The US is busy cutting deals with MB in Egypt and Syria if some sources are to be believed but we'll leave that for another day) and that the KSA want a secular govt in power (another reason for this is that arabia has been at war with Mesapotamia and Persia since mankind).

So what’s the next step?
The next step is for the intelligence services of the GCC, Turkey and Jordan to contact the key movers and shakers within the Syrian military. Making them split and join with the protestors will actually strengthen the Asaad position and allow him to retain control for longer. Then Syria will descend into another Iraq. So the move is to essentially establish contact with the Syrian Colnols/ National Security Council etc and negotiate with them. Get their opinions together and eventually cripple the ability of the military to function. Then essentially ask for their support for the Syrian people's aspirations. This could be similar to that of Egypt or could even be via a military coup de etat.

This should occur when soldiers are sick off killing unarmed protestors to the point of disgust and start rebelling against illegitimate instructions from superiors.

The defection of Col. Maher Al Asaad showed that even minorities are against the Asaad regime. The protestors have decided not to take up arms and this is actually to prevent a civil war from taking place.

Asaad's response.

Syrian army operations in Northern Syria

Asaad's response has been quite smart. He is not afraid to kill many people. His forces in key positions are mainly from the Syrian minorities and from families that have been allied with the regime. This has brought an attitude where the soldiers are killing for the protection of their communities. The continued use of the terms 'fighting armed groups' is to project a legitimacy and maintain the morale of the military and avert pressure.

However, our sources suggest that the Asaad regime has decided to sideline the military from anti protestor operations. The regime has chosen to use the Hezbollah, Iranian police/troops and other Alawite militia's to conduct the anti protestor policing/killings. This is to prevent the military from splitting.

The Syrian intelligence has conducted several operations in neighbouring countries. Intelligence sources confirm that several key opposition figures (Over a dozen) have been kidnapped in Turkey and Lebanon by the Syrian intelligence. The well known case to date is that of Colonel Hussein Harmoush who has retracted all his statements that he made when he had defected.

Tehran's role

Tehran's role is to provide military support and also from a strategic perspective provide the Syrian regime with the experience (dealing with protestors, their communication, disrupting protesters via the internet) that was learned during the 2009 mass protests in Iran in the wake of Ahmadinejad's election victory. 

The Iranian National Security council have written a document on how they can provide support to the Syrian regime. These mainly involve economic projects such as the $10billion oil & gas pipeline from Iran to Syria of which lots of money had already been transferred to the Syrian government.

Iran will have to switch focus back to its internal problems eventually with planned demonstrations against Corruption and also how to organize future parliamentary elections. It is also important to note the last IRGC exercise was actually on how to deal with demonstrations across Iranian cities.


Our conclusion is that we expect to see this conflict being drawn out for a longer period than previously expected although the Turkish intelligence is telling its friends that Asaad's fall will come quickly. Is this because they have already began negotiating with key players?

As India is a relatively fringe player in this crisis, we should remain neutral and suggest that the Asaad regime must implement reforms or risk exhausting the patience of the international community. At the same time, we should begin establishing contacts with key elements of the regime to ensure our interests in the country are protected in a post Asaad Syria.

India and the Syrian Imbroglio: Part 1

India and the Syrian Imbroglio

President Assad has been a good friend of India, as was his father Hafez Al Assad. Both Syria and India are secular countries, have been partners in NAM and have shared several common interests (economic and diplomatic). However, India has expressed its concern over the current situation in Syria and that too with good reason. According to the UN over 3000 people have been killed since unrest broke out in March.


India along with several nations (Brazil and South Africa) have sensed that another military intervention by is in the offing. In order to prevent another Libya like situation, India along with what is termed as IBSA – India, Brazil and South Africa, visited Damascus and had told President Assad that he needs to implement multi party reforms and thereby alter article 8 of the Syrian constitution which states that only the Baath party can select its leader. In return, Assad told his Indian interlocutors that he did make some mistakes when handling the situation and a national dialogue was in process to solve the prevailing problems. Many analysts have opined that this is at best a stall tactic for Assad to retain power.

The Syrian protests are being done for genuine economic and political reasons, however, there are nations in the region who see it as in their interests to remove Assad and are taking advantage of the prevailing situation. The Assad regime has been allied with Iran over several issues – Iraq, continued support of the Palestinian groups such as Hamas and military support to Hezbollah. Iran has deployed extensive military support to Hezbollah via Syria.

Iran sees the protection of the Syrian regime as part of their strategic interests. As part of this process, Iran has sent police forces, militia, advisers and has brought in Hezbollah militiants to help Syria deal with the current unrest. The aim is to utilize and apply the experience learned in dealing with the unrest in Iran after Pres. Ahmadinejad’s victory.

The GCC along with an alliance of other countries were formed around 5 years ago to coordinate against what was seen as growing Iranian expansionism. The GCC had felt threatened as Iran had extended its influence throughout the region. In Iraq – today the GCC views the Iraqi PM as an “Iranian stooge” and for example Iranian backed shia militants who are extremely powerful in the south of Iraq have fired scud missiles into Kuwait. Lebanon has now a Hezbollah dominated government which is naturally aligned with Iranian interests. In Yemen, Houthi rebels who are in the Northwest of Yemen were battling Saudi troops as well as the Yemeni government troops and had seized several villages on the Saudi border. The GCC as well as Yemen had accused Iran of funding and arming the rebels. With the ongoing unrest in Yemen, there are fears in Riyadh that Iran could take advantage of the situation. In Egypt, Iran has attempted to build relations with the government as well as pro-Iran groups. Lastly, the GCC had also accused Iran of backing the unrest in Bahrain – the US had confirmed that they had intelligence to confirm this view. Several Iranian spy cells have been dismantled in the last few months in Kuwait and Bahrain.

All these moves by Iran, have made the GCC feel surrounded and feel threatened. As a result, the GCC and its allies have decided the time has come to aggressively remove Iranian influence in the region. As part of this process, the GCC has decided to turn up the rhetoric and coordinate with Sunni Turkey against Syrian President Assad.

The removal of President Assad will deliver the first defeat to Iranian influence in the region. It will cause the supply lines to Lebanese Hezbollah to be damaged and thereby weaken Hezbollah. The Iranian regime has been utilizing Hezbollah for its nefarious activities in the Gulf, a swift military force that can be used to defend Iranian interests in the region and fight the GCC in a war (if it comes to that).

What will we see now? 

The Leader of the Free Syrian Army

President Assad has now crossed the point of no return. Intelligence sources have pointed out that defections have taken place in the Syrian conscript army. Slowly but surely if the killings of the Syrian people continue, the Syrian army begin to defect with the protesters – as soldiers question the orders provided by the Syrian military high command.

The UAE is said to have already offered Assad asylum. However, the GCC as well as the Turkish intelligence have concluded that Assad’s fall will come quickly. Hence, now you are seeing a tightening of the noose around Assad’s kneck. Turkey has today announced sanctions. It is highly possible that Turkey will create a “buffer zone” where Syrian refugees will receive military training and help continue the fight.  Turkey will be forced to take the action as it cannot see Syria’s Kurds assert their independence which will automatically instigate Kurds in Turkey.

Erdogan’s rhetoric against Israel was nothing but a cover for his inaction in Syria and to win over the Arab street. Erdogan’s Turkey has initiated intelligence cooperation with Israel since 6th June due to the prevailing situation in Syria.

Iran hasn’t sat quietly watching the developments, it has issued strong warnings to Turkey. It conducted a major missile exercise in the North west which was sent as a message to Ankara that any military intervention in Syria will be met with war against Turkey. As a result Turkey has beefed up its anti missile batteries being deployed, western ships have also amassed off the Turkish coast including some with AEGIS class anti missile systems to protect Europe from Iranian missiles.

The view is that Assad has crossed the point of no return – even if multi party reforms are initiated, the people will demand an answer to the killings and for the President to be held responsible.

Lebanese army officers have suggested that the prices for weapons in black markets within Lebanon have spiked due to demand from Syria. Some sources have said that the Assad’s close circle has tightened to around 3 or 4 people.

India’s position

In light of the mounting evidence in support of Assad’s downfall and his continuing massacres. It is time for India to work together with the UN Security council to prevent further massacres from taking place.

However, India as well as China are indeed wary of the fact that the UN Security council vote against Syria could be used as a historical precedent to interfere in their respective countries. Therefore, it might be prudent for India to remain neutral in this crisis but ensure that its interests in Syria are protected.