A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network, shows Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants waiting to depart in the town of Kfar Nubul, in the northwestern province of Idlib,
By: Nicolas Nassif
Published Monday, June 18, 2012
When the ceasefire was announced in Syria on April 12, it was said that diplomatic efforts were in a race against time to prevail over the violence. More than two months later, little if any hope remains that diplomacy can outpace the use of force by both sides. The regime and armed opposition alike have ended up banking on violence alone. Each has a different rationale for doing so. But this also shows that they have completely lost the ability to take the initiative or to control the course of developments, the chaos they have caused, or their respective places in the conflict.
That is what happened in Lebanon in the past. This time things could go far further even than they did in Lebanon during its civil war years. Syria is no longer in Syrian hands. Neither of the rival sides, which are incapable of prevailing by force, can any longer take a step back or – more importantly – forward without inflicting a high cost on itself, and on the country.
This impression is strengthened by observations made by some of Syria’s principal Lebanese allies, who have been assessing the situation, and is supported by information reaching them from within Syria. It makes for a gloomy outlook.
Sixteen months after the outbreak of the crisis, Syria’s main allies in Lebanon concur that developments since then have gone counter to their expectations. It has become clear to them that the control on the ground of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is no longer genuine, and that the regime is not in good shape – though that does not make them think that its imminent downfall is likely, that the Syrian National Congress (SNC) will seize power, or even that the army will collapse.