Things seem to be heating up in Syria. Yesterday, three high-ranking officials (the defense minister, deputy defense minister and the head of the crisis management office) in the al-Assad regime were killed and two wounded (the interior minister and the head of the national security bureau). Rebel groups claimed to have planted the bomb a day before in a room where the senior leadership of the regime would be meeting.
This brings to mind the failed July 20th, 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler at his bunker in Rastenburg by members of the German officer corps. Along with a senior cadre of German military officers, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg brought a bomb in a briefcase into a briefing in which Hitler was present. The bomb detonated, but due to the fact that it was placed under the table and the bunker itself was constructed of concrete, it merely injured Hitler, failing to kill him. After the attempt, Hitler initiated a purge of the ranks of the German military, which, if anything, hastened the end of the war.
This has parallels to what happened in Damascus yesterday. You don’t pull off an operation of this caliber without inside connections. Meaning, someone within the regime sees the writing on the wall and is hoping to at least draw this conflict down before the killings turn into something more genocidal. Yes, the killing in Syria has claimed the lives of at least 15,000 individuals, but if the al-Assad regime begins to use chemical weapons and really deploy its air force, then the death toll will begin skyrocketing at that point.
So why would the al-Assad regime do this? Well, they don’t really have any other choice. They either survive, or they end up on the docket in the Hague once they capitulate. And in the off chance that the members of the regime actually succeed, it’s possible (albeit unlikely) that they might conceivably be running Syria in a few years. If they throw in the towel and flee to Russia, then they’re done, and the leadership of the country will be in permanent exile, unable to travel, and living only on whatever money that they’re able to bring with them in suitcases (literally) and funds that they have stashed away in Swiss accounts, which would likely be frozen.
The battle for Damascus is intensifying, and the only way that a massive blood letting could be forestalled is if the West intervenes. As that is rather unlikely, I’d expect many, many more people to die in the coming months than have previously, and for the region as a whole to become much more unstable.