IDF: Assad Gains ‘Pyrrhic’

Over at Haaretz Amos Harel has now repeatedly said that according to IDF intelligence assessments, the reports of Assad having significantly reversed the tide of the Syrian civil war are exaggerated. Time to consider that thought:

“According to the IDF. Hezbollah chalked up a pyrrhic victory in Qusair; it’s unlikely that the Syrian dictator will get much satisfaction from it.

When the cameras were turned off on the Golan Heights, the diplomatic correspondents asked Netanyahu’s aides why the boss had adopted such a militant tone. The explanation they got was that Assad feels he’s riding high after his success in Qusair and has to be deterred and brought back to his proper size. IDF officers and senior security personnel on hand ‏(but who didn’t hear the aides’ explanation to the media‏) offered a radically different interpretation of the situation. People who are concerned about the momentum being displayed by the regime’s loyalists in Syria are confusing tactics and strategy, they said. “Such thinking reflects a historic lack of understanding. The era of a united Syria under the rule of the Assad family is over. What remains are two million Alawites who, in the meantime, can go on holding the Damascus area and the Alawite area in the country’s northwest. They are no longer capable of controlling the other ethnic groups and regions of the country. That’s over.”

According to this analysis, Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah is repeating in Syria the same mistake he made in the Second Lebanon War of 2006. In both cases, he initiated a confrontation that ended up being more than he could handle. The long-term result will be to seriously damage the organization, even if this is currently being glossed over with spectacular PR stunts.

Hezbollah lost more than 100 fighters from its special units in Qusair. Hundreds more were wounded. The total number of Hezbollah dead in Syria has already passed the 500 mark − close to the number of fatalities the organization incurred in the 2006 war with the IDF. If you add the number of wounded, more than five percent of Hezbollah’s order of battle has been eroded. The victory in Qusair was achieved because Assad brought far greater force to bear than the rebels did, but it came at a high price. In the next battle, which will probably be for Aleppo, the regime will move slowly and bring even more massive artillery into play in order to weaken the resistance.

Hezbollah buries its dead at night, to avoid media coverage. Amid the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah managed to turn Lebanon into a country subject to Shi’ite hegemony. Now, with Sunni rockets slamming into the Dahiya quarter of Beirut and Shi’ite villages in the Bekaa Valley, that achievement has been erased. Nasrallah, the hero of the 2006 war, is now loathed by hundreds of millions of Sunnis for his support of the Assad regime. His decision to join the civil war in Syria, under pressure from Assad and his Iranian patrons, will be talked about in the future in the same terms as his exceptional admission two weeks after the end of the war with Israel seven years ago: If he had known there was even a one percent chance that this was how things would turn out, he would not have launched the campaign.”

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