A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Battle for Damascus: Decapitating the Security Apparatus

The conflict in Syria is escalating, and today's suicide bombing that killed Syria's key security leadership marks the revolutionaries' greatest blow to the regime yet.

By killing Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, Interior Minister Minister Muhammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Deputy Defense Minister ‘Assaf Shawkat (former security chief and husband of President Asad's sister Bushra), former Defense Minister (now Deputy Vice President) Hasan Turkmani, and others, the bombing nearly decapitates the security sector; by apparently demonstrating the ability to penetrate the actual crisis management headquarters managing the fight against the rebels, the rebels also show a new level of capability. With the death of Shawkat, the rebels have also struck at the Asad family itself.

It's probably unwise to proclaim this is the endgame just yet, since deeply rooted security states like Syria are hard to decapitate, new hydra heads growing as older ones are removed, but this is a body blow to the regime.

Among sites following developments live are Al Jazeera English's live blog; EA Worldview, The Guardian, and of course the #Syria hashtag on Twitter. 

Reports that the regime is issuing gas masks to its forces, if true, raise the specter that a desperate regime might resort to chemical warfare against its own people.

Can we stop debating whether or not it's a civil war now?

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Russians need to protect their interests, and Bashar is not the man to do it for them. Good bet that we will not stand in the way of Russian inspired coup by some military officers prepared to deal with the opposition. Time for Vladimir Putin to prepare a tastefully appointed secure residence for Bashar and his immediate family somewhere in mother Russia and to make sure Bashar stays put while the transition unfolds. Washington Post and international human rights organizations would hate it, but this is best route toward saving many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Syrian lives.