World View—Analysts: Tables Turned on Assad in Syria War

This morning's key headlines from
  • Syria's war turns against Bashar al-Assad
  • United States prepares for military action in Syria against chemical weapons
  • Nato approves Turkey's request for Patriot missiles on Syrian border
  • Vietnam lodges a new protest with China over South China Sea belligerence

Syria's war turns against Bashar al-Assad

Many analysts are saying that after 20 months of war in Syria, there has been a recent shift in the fighting that makes a victory by the opposition rebels over president Bashar al-Assad a real possibility. The rebels are better armed, and better trained to use the weapons they have. There are reports that they can shoot down al-Assad's warplanes and helicopters with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In a major strategic shift, they're closing in on al-Assad's seat of power in Damascus. The Russians are still opposed to any external intervention in Syria, but they're no longer committed to al-Assad personally. (However, Iran is still committed personally.) AP

United States prepares for military action in Syria against chemical weapons

With the war turning against Bashar al-Assad, analysts are saying that al-Assad is facing three choices: 

  • Flee into exile. (In the past, there was talk of him fleeing to Moscow with his super-hot wife Asma and his kids.)
  • Fight to the death with conventional weapons.
  • Try to delay defeat by using chemical weapons (sarin or mustard gas), despite harsh warnings from American and European administrations that this is a "red line" that would prompt outside military action.

Fears about chemical weapons use were heightened over the weekend by satellite photos showing movement of al-Assad's chemical weapons, and reports that they're moving into position for battle. 

As we reported two months ago ( "13-Oct-12 World View -- U.S. preparing for worst-case chemical weapons scenario in Syria"), the United States military has sent troops to Jordan to prepare to take action against the use of chemical weapons. Since then, American forces in Jordan, Israel and Turkey have gone on high alert, and are preparing for military action in Syria. 

The al-Assad regime has issued a widely-quoted statement that they "would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people under any circumstances." In the first place, al-Assad's word is worthless, and it might even be argued that this statement means that he WILL use chemical weapons against his own people. And second, this statement ostentatiously omits mention of external forces, whether American, Turkish, Jordanian, or Israeli.

This statement also omits another possibility -- turning the chemical weapons over to Hizbollah or another terrorist group, and allow THOSE people to use chemical weapons against al-Assad's people. Bloomberg and Debka

Nato approves Turkey's request for Patriot missiles on Syrian border

Nato announced on Tuesday that it was approving Turkey's request to deploy the Patriot anti-missile system on Turkey's border with Syria. There have been fears expressed that the system would be used to establish a no-fly zone over Syria, like the no-fly zone that was established over Libya last year. However, Turkey and Nato have committed that the system will be used for defensive purposes only, especially out of fear that the al-Assad regime will launch chemical weapons into Syria. (It's not certain that the Patriot anti-missile system is effective against such weapons.) At any rate, things are moving rapidly in Syria right now, while the Patriot system will require several weeks to deploy. AP

Vietnam lodges a new protest with China over South China Sea belligerence

It seems that almost every day there's a new act of belligerence on the part of China, as it pursues its "Lebensraum" policy to confiscate as much property as possible that belongs to other nations. On Tuesday, Vietnam lodge a new protest with China, saying that Chinese boats had intentionally blocked and damaged a Vietnamese seismic survey vessel operating in Vietnam's internationally recognized exclusive economic zone. The incident occurred on November 30. 

As we've reported, China last week issued a statement that starting in 2013 they would be boarding and seizing any ships in China's "territorial waters," which they claim include the entire South China Sea. This is one of the world's busiest commercial shipping routes, and if China starts boarding and seizing commercial ships of America or other nations, there is going to be a military response. Bloomberg and Washington Times

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