Jack Cohen

Syrian shambles

The civil war in Syria has taken another turn towards the denouement of the Assad regime, with the clash in Aleppo between the insurgent Syrian Free Army and the regime’s Syrian Army. This emphasizes the fatal flaw of the regime, that it does not have enough forces to hold the whole country. While it gathers its strength to try to hold onto Damascus and Aleppo, the FSA is able to hold large areas of the hinterland with only small forces because the majority of the Syrian people are against the regime. The use of its airforce, helicopters and fighter jets is an indication of the extreme to which the regime will go to maintain its hold on the major cities, as Qaddafi did in Libya.

But, in Syria there is no intervention of international forces and no “no-fly zone” in order to protect civilian lives as there was in Libya. The difference in Syria is that Russia is protecting its client Assad from such an intervention, with Chinese connivance, thus resulting in hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties. US Secty. of State Clinton warned of massacres in Aleppo, but so far nothing has been done to stop it. In Syria, as the civil war increasingly becomes a sectarian war, pitting Alawis against Sunnis and Kurds, the country is beginning to break up. The Kurds have all but established their own enclave in the north east where the Syrian Army has lost control. There is a rumor that in the north west area of Alawi control Assad will make his last stand and form a separate autonomy. Israel will not cry if Syria breaks up.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are pouring into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon (Iraq closed its border). What will become of them? They will probably change the balance of power in Jordan and Lebanon, leading to future clashes. Israel remains an island of calm and stability in this sea of Arab turmoil. Meanwhile the Syrian Army is pummeling Aleppo into submission, and destroying the city and noone seems to care.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.