Al Jisr Center for Studies:
This title might seem weird to those who consider the regime’s fall is restricted to ousting a governor through public protests or a military coup. Others believe the opposite and see the regime’s fall is related to its inability to manage the state. They believe the revolution has accomplished a tremendous change through the first scream calling for its overthrow, even if the revolution didn’t accomplish all of its long-term purposes. Indeed, Assad regime was overthrown and was exposed to the world as a gang of bandits. And what it’s seen today, is merely a corpse on the verge of collapsing while its supporters are trying to save from an inevitable destiny in order to accomplish their goals. Western decision-making centers and research centers are trying to promote the idea of “Assad won the war” and it’s just a matter of time before announcing his victory over the public Syrian revolution after seven years of conflict. These centers are doing their best listing and explaining the reasons which lead to the preponderance of Assad in relation to his opponents. Some even go beyond that and tackle the issue of reconstruction and refugees return, and how many Arab and Western countries have started coordinating with the regime openly and behind the scenes, according to a statement by the minister of the Israeli defense Avigdor Lieberman days ago. Generally, the idea of Assad’s victory is based on “the land grabbing” principle, the international atmosphere as well as the change that has occurred on the American and the European stand from the Syrian war, or even on the opposition’s “failure” both politically and military to defend its internets either on the ground or during the international platforms. Syrians watch these changes with big interest inside and outside the country and they have different views towards them; some of them are easily trapped in the idea of Assad’s victory illusion, while others refuse it as a whole. While the first party- which includes the regime supporters– sees the conflict which took place these years an actual war between two equal military camps, and Syrians are the only victims of a war that is clearly in favor of Assad and his allies. On the other hand, there is another group- the majority of them are located in the liberated areas or basically refugees- this group believes that the idea of “Assad victory” and the killing of nearly a million Syrian as well as destructing almost 60% of the country’s infrastructure, comes mainly a part of the psychological and propaganda launched by the media against them since day one of protests which started in 2011. Admittedly, a big part of “rebels” started to take for granted this idea believing that the revolution has finished and that Syria went back to a far more severe military governance than it was before. Let us agree that promoting to “the Assad’s victory” is not an innocent or a random act, especially if Bashar himself avoided mentioning the word victory in his last speech on 20 September 2017. Therefore, announcing victory or defeat based on the land grabbing and the international atmosphere is not necessarily a reflection of reality taking into consideration that the regime has lost over 85% of Syria since the beginning of the revolution till the end of 2015, even then, when it was in its worse cases, the regime didn’t announce its defeat. Also, the international community- with the exception of Russia, Iran and China camp- insisted that Assad has lost any semblance of legitimacy, the necessity of his immediate departure, and I believe that the expression “it’s just a matter of days’ still haunts both Assad and his allies. Despite of the political and media focus aiming to cement this idea, there are some senior figures which believe otherwise and sees that Assad remaining in power or the opposition defeat in some areas a victory. The American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has doubted openly days before on the regime forces ability to perverse the reclaimed areas with the Russian air forces in west Syria, affirming that “Assad cannot preserve his military gains”. A quick glance at Syria before March 2011, undoubtedly will reveal that Assad is more of a loser than a winner (even if the opposition did not win), simply because the kind of regime which was once controlling everything through his security huts, is only a political card played by its supporters and allies. Syrian are fully aware that the decision-making channels now don’t not involve Damascus and that even the regime’s pillars, including Bashar, has no word in what the Russian and Iranians decide, which both have stated repeatedly their “saving the regime from falling down”. Lavrov’s statement about Russia standing against Damascus falling at “the hands of terrorists” was a message to Assad himself… can we then consider a regime which depends fully on his allies’ agendas a winner?? Russians have said it over and over…that they are not attached to Assad and that wasn’t random. In fact, Moscow needs someone who protects its interests in Syria without leaving the Middle East for good which cannot be done with the Assad’s fall. Being far away from emotions, the next pages represent a listing of the fact supporting the idea that the revolutions has achieved its main objective to overthrow Assad, even if it didn’t fully accomplish all its goals till now. 1: The Economic Crisis: Probably Assad economic fall was the west’s best-case scenario, therefore, there were early sanctions shortly after the public protests. In spite of the various companies and institutions which have launched sanctions as well as the various companies and institutions which has been subjected to them, the direct impact on Assad’s regime was not enough to bring him to the negotiations table, especially after the Russians and Iranians started pumping generously funds into its veins along with rigging around these sanctions. There is a number of factors which have contributed to this economic dry out, starting by the prolonged years of war, most of investments and funds had fled the country and ending by a huge decrease in the number of investments and tourism revenues. All the aforementioned reasons contributed to the crush of the Syrian currency by ten times for more than six years, and led to a huge gap between the prices and the annual income per capita. The decision behind printing banknotes with a huge value (e.g. 2000 banknote) was a confirmation to the extent of inflation the economy is suffering from, and that of course had drawbacks on citizens. A good example of this, is the poverty rate which has increased to reach 80% of the Syrian population where more than 90% of are living on external money transfer. Despite of the financial support given to Assad’s regime, it wasn’t enough to make him stand on his feet. A good proof of this is when the regime has ignored the requests of raising salaries and wages to fill the gap between income and spending. The regime is targeting now the funds of what it calls “reconstruction operations” in an attempt to benefit from them to enhance the economic situations in the country. However, the European Union and the United Nations have refused till now to cooperate with the regime, which makes it front of the dilemma of a continuous deficit. Discussing the economic situation is not our major concerned in this regard, and there are various essays which have tackle the economic issues the regime has faced so far, but this is merely a highlight on a very important question: can the regime survive on aids where the big majority of its population depends on them? Lack of military, security and political governance: If the economy is an essential pillar to build nations, the military capacity comes second. Much like the regime has received financial support to postponed its overthrow and protect it from falling down quickly, same happened with military field. The “Syrian Army” fell down within a year and half of military battles which led Assad to depend on local and ethnic multi-national militias or even military forces of his allies which led to the raising of various problems: Depending on Local Militias: After the various breakdowns which occurred in the traditional military institutions because of a number of splits, escapes or killing, pro Assad areas- especially his hometown near the cost - established military militias to fill the gap in of fighters in the battlefield. Despite the gains Assad has accomplished out of this, there are various drawbacks; some of which have been obvious since the beginning, while others are becoming clearer through time. At the beginning of the revolution the Alawites sect wasn’t in its best status, the vast majority of them were suffering from discrimination, marginalization and poverty, and probably that was on purpose since Hafiz Al-Assad rule to force them join the army. But, their desperate defense to Assad is attributed to a need to survive and exist and not out of their faith in the regime. It’s a matter of life or death for them, especially that the regime attached his existence to theirs in their mindset. Assad dependence of these armed militias has reversed the situation, and made him under their protection to be transformed later on into “armed gangs” tirelessly seeking for their aim without the possibility to control inside and outside cities. This puts the regime front of a long-term issue that needs years to be solved- like any other party that has supported and saved Assad- the militias believe that it has a significant role in the regime’s survival and thus has the full right to act freely to achieve its goals. Eventually, it will block any attempt by the regime to standardize or control them after being addicted to killing and robbery. Depending on Ethnic and multinational Militias: A lot of what have been discussed before applies on Shia multinational militias. They believed, like many others, they also saved Assad remaining in position, which means that Assad will certainly face more problems than the local ones. These militias despite their nationalities they are not welcomed even by Assad supporters. Much of that rejection is due to the approach adopted by Iraqi, Iranian, Afghani and Pakistani members which makes their integration in the Syrian community very difficult if not possible. Assad has two options to deal with these militias either to force them to leave the areas under their control, which the regime can’t do, or even consider or surrender and accepts their existence in the political situation and have no control over them which may lead to future disputes between them and their local counterparts. In both cases, the Assad regime seems helpless to come up with solutions to these hurdles, if it has the capability of dealing with them, it wouldn’t bring them and depend on them in the first place. Depending on His “Friends” Army: Countries like Iran and Russia which have invested a lot in the Syrian war won’t back off until accomplishing their interests and they have already started harvesting the fruits of their presence even before the end of the war. The truth is that Assad doesn’t have any military or security weight front of these countries, and it’s widely known that Russia has taken charge of protecting Bashar al Assad on a personal level before. Russia today, controls all naval, ground and air bases at the heart of pro Assad-areas, and there are some military Russian sites where senior officials affiliated to the Assad regime are not allowed to enter. In fact, an end to the war does not mean an end to the Russian involvement in Syria, an idea that the regime, had never imagined possible even in its wildest dreams. Russia planned to stay in Syria for years to come, and probably a recent example of this foothold is when Russia signed an agreement for taking control over a naval base in Tartus for 49 years with the possibility to extending it to an additional 25 years with both parties’ consent. Concerning Iran, the situation is not less complicated, because of the long history between Iran and both regime of Hafez and Bashar Assad. Every now and then, Iran makes a statement about its death toll in Syria, as an indication that the Iranian blood which has been shed to defend Al-Assad won’t be without cost and it will certainly be paid by those who supposedly won the war through security, military, cultural and economic concessions. How could anyone forget the speech by the Iranian military official who described Syria as an Iranian district? As far as Russia and Iran are concerned, Bashar Assad is not more than a proxy who was able to maintain a symbolic position that costs him a lot. He sacrificed the country’s “sovereignty” to saved himself, to be eventually between a rock and a hard place; neither he can’t reclaim their saviors’ earns on the battlefield nor can he confront these countries which have claimed many times that his survival is attributed to them. Reality says otherwise, his dependence on others to survive, jeopardize his existence. Bashar Assad is merely an excuse used by others to bargain, his existence was important to maintain his friends’ gains before. Now that they have become the real decision-makers, there is no need to defend him. And it’s possible that they’ll bring another proxy to protect their interests, especially that Assad now is seen an immoral figure who has lost his political, military weight in the international community and process of making peace is almost impossible while he is still around. The notion of “sovereignty” is another issue for the regime, especially that the country is now divided into areas of control and most of these areas are military foreign bases. The United States and its allies control Hasakah and Raqqa provinces and the East bank of Deir Ez-zour, while there is a Turkish influence expansion in the north with a Russian consent. Russia on the other hand, is taking control over naval, ground and air bases that cover Assad controlled areas. Financial and administrative corruption: Administrative corruption is a major characteristic of failed states; when a state loses its sovereignty, and becomes unable to maintain its internal affairs to lead to more failure and deficiency. Corruption was a major characteristic of Assad regime, even before the revolution and the war that followed. And instead of making real reforms, thing have gotten a lot worse than before; corruption has increased unprecedented levels. At the time of destruction and killing, Assad officials used their positions and there were various misconducts and power abuse, which was encouraged by the belief that Assad won’t remain for long in power. Assad is fully aware of these happenings, and it seems that he kept quiet during the war years for many reasons. "combating corruption" was an excuse and a propaganda for him to prevent his departure. Also prosecuting official from the second or third rank would give an impression that regime is controlling the country and that what covers his deficiency up against the international community. Prosecuting or expelling the regime’s corrupted officials was an attempt to deceive the public opinion, while reality shows that it’s rather an adopted tactic that starts by choosing them on purpose and ends by making them scapegoats to cover the regime’s horrific nature. The regime is trying to escape prosecution and deceive the Syrian population that a change is taking over. The reality is because of this strategy Syria took high ranks in the global corruption indicators, the percentage of bribes has increased as well during the war ten times than it was before in 2010, “the ministry of Finance” disclosed in a survey corruption has reached 5 billion Syrian pounds. This corruption and its consequences cannot be avoided easily, not even within decades, especially if associated with the notion of “sovereignty” which makes the regime in a bad position for being unqualified to stop this wave either whether by its internal supporters who helped to him remain in power or external factors which prevented his departure. Indeed, to cover his horrific nature, Assad was prosecuting minor figures with no political weight and pretends to tighten his grip on them, while it remained a major reason behind the raising of the revolution and a major factor for tension as well as the failure of the regime which has been weakened by war. Prosecution and Immorality: In March 2009, the pre-Trial Chamber of International Criminal Court of Hague issued an order to arrest Omar Al Bashir, the Sudanese president, for “suspecting” him for being responsible for crimes of killing, extermination and torture against the big majority of civilians in Darfur. Despite the significance of the judgement and its credibility, Omar Al Bashir is accused of war crimes and it’s requested from all states to arrest him for “war crimes” once he’s on their territory. This will be Bashar’s fate after the war, because there is no statute of limitations on the prosecution of war crime according to the international war. Radovan Karadžić, the president of Bosnian Serbs, is a good example of this, he was arrested after 13 years of escaping and hiding for being responsible of Srebrenitsa genocide where eight thousand Muslims were killed. Today, Bashar Assad is responsible for the killing of nearly 1 million Syrian. His name as well as a number of officials are included in European and American sanctions’ lists. Some observers believe that these sanctions have nothing to do with the economic situation of the country, but the complex nature of the Syrian conflict made compulsory to overshadow the legal aspects of the situation at least for now. Bashar Al-Bashar has practically fell down with the first bullet by protestors, but because the international community works with “the principal of priorities”; today’s priority is to combat terrorism created by Assad to cover his horrific deeds. There will be a time for prosecution once the excuse of “terrorism” is off the table. A regime, is condemned and accused by the international human rights organizations and committees of committing crimes and hardships against humanity since the Second World War, cannot last and survive and it will be undoubtedly abandoned by its allies and supporters when his job is done.