NIGHTWATCH: Syria Government-Kurds Steady

08 Wild Cards, Cultural Intelligence, Peace Intelligence

Syria: Syrian TV reported that on 9 December the Syrian army captured the town of al-Nabk in west-central Syria after days of fighting. This town was the last rebel strong point on the road that links Damascus to Homs and the coast.

Comment: The Syrian army’s offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains along the border with Lebanon appears to have been successful. The highway from Damascus to the coast is under government control. A security threat will persist, but the task of supporting Damascus should prove easier. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons eventually should be able to use the main highway to remove Syria’s chemical warfare agents and filled munitions.

The bulk of daily reporting continues to indicate that the rebels are fighting each other as often as they are fighting the government forces. The Kurds in the northeast are in a de facto alliance with the government to keep jihadists out of Kurdish lands. Little by little, the Syrian government forces and their allies are making gains, some are strategic. The Ba’athist government in Damascus is not in danger of falling.

The hardest military challenges for the government forces appear to lie in the border region with Turkey, but they can wait as long as the Damascus life-line to the coast is open. A change of policy in Turkey to withdraw its support from the opposition would go far to facilitating a ceasefire.