Syria and the myth of the regime’s recovery

Hazem al-Amin

Published: Updated:

What is happening in Syria does not indicate that the regime will recover and emerge victorious from the ordeal which has struck the Syrian people and affected all the conflicting parties in the country. There also seems to be no scenario offering an alternative to the present situation.

The regime has not won and is struggling by the day. The Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib is a sign of this weakness. Its inability to react to the daily Israeli raids is another sign of its vulnerability. Its exclusion from running the affairs in Daraa and its provinces and dependence on Russian police in managing the situation there is also an indicator that makes the allies of the Syrian regime realize that the latter is unfit to govern. The division of the tasks of governance between the Iranians and Russians has become a part of an ordinary scene in Syria.

“The regime is about to recover!” This is the favored statement that we have been hearing for the last two years. However, the regime is further weakening every day

Hazem al-Amin

Allies overpower the regime

So this regime whose situation is as such, is expected to govern, actually govern those whom have rivers of blood between them and the regime? The Syrian regime does not have the prerequisites for governance, with the exception of the whip, and perhaps it also has the desperation of the social category which revolted against it.

In exchange for this power apparatus, the regime is facing a strange situation. The daily Israeli raids have made the Baath regime lose the substantial discourse of its governance. Russia’s daily insults on the sovereign level against the regime are obvious to its closest supporters. It seems the regime does not even have a place in all the meetings concerning the future of Syria. The Russians and Turks say the timing of the campaign against Idlib is no longer imminent. The Syrian Army commits itself to this statement, and to the 20 km limit as described in the agreement between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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“The regime is about to recover!” This is the favored statement that we have been hearing for the last two years. However, the regime is further weakening every day. Aircrafts bomb Syria from all sides. When the regime has lost the ability to control the scene, it started confronting aircrafts of “allies”, one of which was recently struck down in Latakia. However it was unable to destroy any Israeli aircraft. This is not a cynical situation. Cynicism is not a suitable term to describe a regime that is this brutal and violent.

It’s a realistic paradox. Multinational aircrafts in Syria no longer violate sovereignty and international law. The Americans are present in the north and east of the country; the Turks are in Idlib, the Russians and the Iranians are present in the center and south of the country, while the Syrian skies are open to Israeli planes. Despite all this, there are those who say that the regime in Syria is about to recover, and that the Syrian Arab Army will soon extend its sovereignty over the entire Syrian territory.

Dismal future

Amid this complicated scene, it is not possible to expect there will be a deal that solidifies an authority in which these countries share influence in Syria. How will the share of Iran be determined, for example, in the light of this overlapping between its interests and those of Russia? Will Israel accept that Iran becomes a partner in power in Syria? The same question applies to Turkey's share and the Kurds in the north.

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The present scene points to more wars until it clarifies. The “recovering” regime will grow weaker, especially once the opposition is finished, as its killing machine has no function other than killing and if it stops operating this machine after its “rivals” are eliminated, it will lose the only tool of authority it has and the Syrians will once again pounce on it. The regime will thus continue to kill given it’s the only language it masters.

The most striking thing to me when seeing pictures of demonstrations in Idlib is that the protestors are demanding the overthrow of the regime as the latter is the weakest link in the cycle of Syrian violence today. It is true that it has not lost its ability to kill, but what remains of this capability is the non-functional murder. It is murder as an extension of an old practice and a culture which is the only thing they know how to do. As for the real story in Syria, it is in a very different place.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Hazem al-Amin is a Lebanese writer and journalist at al-Hayat. He was a field reporter for the newspaper, and covered wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza. He specialized in reporting on Islamists in Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Kurdistan and Pakistan, and on Muslim affairs in Europe. He has been described by regional media outlets as one of Lebanon’s most intelligent observers of Arab and Lebanese politics.

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