The Syrian army: Assad's paper tiger

The Syrian army: Assad's paper tiger
Comment: The Syrian regime has for decades proclaimed the invincibility of its army. A string of defeats has betrayed it as a spineless mess, says Fatima Yasseen.
3 min read
26 May, 2015
The Syrian army has left behind a trail of destruction [Anadolu]
The Syrian regime's army is retreating into its shell. Idlib, Jisr al-Shughur and Palmyra have fallen like dominoes.

Despite the myths the Syrian army has manufactured about its military prowess, it is finally being shown for what it really is: a ramshackle cart being drawn by an old horse.

Pro-regime media swallowed the various justifications for the army's series of retreats. But what everyone must now be aware of is that the areas abandoned by the army will never return to its control again.

Damascus is not even attempting to regain these territories, despite speeches by regime leaders to the contrary.

The battle at the besieged national hospital in Jisr al-Shughur was not an attempt to retake it, but an attempt  to rescue a number of high ranking officers who were trapped in the compound. 

The offensive that the regime hoped would lift the morale of its loyalists turned into a nighmare when the soldiers holed up in the hospital were killed after a Jaish al-Fath ["Army of Conquest"] victory. 

A similar outcome was repeated in Palmyra when the Islamic State group advanced through the city as though it was going on a picnic. It soon breached the streets of the ancient city and hoisted its black banner over the citadel.

IS entered the city's national museum, and opened the dungeon doors in Tadmur prison. The quick victory suprised even the attackers.
     The areas abandoned by the Syrian army will never return be in the hands of the regime again.

If one is to draw lines marking the areas that the regime has retreated from, they appear as contours slowly encircling the regime's coastal strongholds and becoming gradually narrower in the north.

It is now certain that the Syrian regime will fight on its own "turf". Damascus is avoiding direct engagement with its  enemies, and has left areas where residents have previously renounced the regime.

The regime is probably trying to save ammunition too, knowing that every bullet will count in coming battles with the rebels and IS. It is also reverting to a raw sectarian form.

It is now vacating the homeland which Syria's national anthem claims the army is the sole guardian of, and fleeing to its heartlands.

The most recent battles have exposed the real structure of the army: an ad-hoc army with no spine, whose notion of the homeland is deeply distorted. Its military doctrine is militia-like.

The Syrian army will not defend anything until it ensures that revenge is involved, and does not attack unless spoils and loot are part of the plan. This army was not built but tailored to fit a specific purpose and a specific whim.

To this day, this army has not fought one patriotic battle, but perhaps it believes one such fight is now looming, on the sands of Latakia's shores.