I listened to important accounts being told by some Syrian officers who have defected from the regime of the tyrant of Damascus, Bashar Assad. Some of these accounts are capable of revealing why the pace of defections from the Damascus regime, including that of senior officers, has increased recently, while also explaining the reality being experienced by the Assad regime today.
What I heard, from reliable sources, is that there is a noticeable lack of trust between Assad regime officers, and this is due to sectarian reasons. One officer revealed that in the event that an Alawite officer finds himself accompanied by a Sunni officer, the Alawite officer is always on a state of high alert, and armed.
He also said that it has become increasingly common for sectarian debate to flare up between Syrian officers, and this is something that represents an unprecedented development. This officer also revealed that a Syrian officer would normally lead his unit when carrying out any mission; however the opposite is true today, with officers remaining in the rear-guard. This is due to a lack of trust, which has prompted some soldiers to say that the latest crisis has made Syrian officers more modest.
Demonstrating the tense situation being experienced in Syria by Assad regime officers, some defectors revealed that cables have been sent to the Syrian military command stressing the necessity of decisions being taken to raise the morale of Syrian officers, non-commission officers and soldiers. One such cable also warned that one Syrian Army division acquired its daily food requirements by confiscating this from families in Deraa over a period of three days. Whilst the defectors also revealed that there is significant difficulty in the communication lines between Syrian military commanders and other parties, with cables and orders being delayed, sometimes for days.
Some defectors also said that the Syrian Army’s prestige, in the eyes of the public, has disappeared. One officer said that in the past a maximum of four Syrian soldiers were required to enter any area in order to arrest somearticlebody, while today it would be difficult for a force of 50 soldiers to arrest the same figure, as people insult and attack the soldiers, which leads the army to react violently against the citizens. The source, speaking about the fading prestige of the Syrian Army and the situation on the ground in Damascus, revealed that even the most senior officers and commanders have begun to move around Damascus in disguised security convoys for fear of being targeted, adding that some remain in their offices for days at a time.
The source also revealed that two senior officers had been kidnapped from central Damascus a few days ago by a revolutionary youth group that calls itself “Damascus, Capital of Umayyad Battalion.” The source added that the security in Damascus is being “eroded," which is contrary to what happened in the Libyan capital during the last days of the Gaddafi regime. During the final days of the regime, the battle raged across all of Libya, with the exception of Tripoli, where there was a quiet that suggested that Gaddafi was still in control, however battles and kidnappings are prevailing in the Syrian capital today. Of course, the importance of such information today is that it helps us to realize the importance and seriousness of the latest Western warnings regarding the possibility of the sudden collapse of the regime of the tyrant of Damascus. This is something that we now expect to happen, more than at any time in the past.
n The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.