Syrian Alawites control the coast and the key port of Latakia. The city’s importance as a harbour dates back to Phoenician era. Another key city and port is Tartarus. Tartarus hosts a very important Russian naval base. The coastal region is largely Alawite, mountainous, and ideal for defense. In fact, our sources tell us that if Assad loses Damascus he intends to retreat to the region with his top military units and chemical weapons.
This is where America and the world hold some important cards. I hope they do not, but if the West allows (and abets) the rebels a full scale victory in Syria, America can use the coast as a bargaining chip. America can tell the Sunni opposition that it will turn a blind eye to arms shipments to the coast, unless the Alawites are guaranteed security and inclusion in the country’s future. Russia and Iran will gladly provide the Alawites with advanced weapons, which Alawites can use from defensible ground. The ill-armed Sunni rebels would not want to risk an attack, which could result in weapons of mass destruction being used.
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The main point is that America and the Europeans cannot insist on a full rebel victory, which will include punishment of the Alawite population. They must make clear that they will not allow Western backed groups to massacre the minorities in the country, and immunity must be granted for (all if not most of) former Assad loyalists. They must start now before the death toll mounts further.
This solution is far from perfect. The vast majority of Sunnis likely want to see members of the Assad regime hanged. Additionally, the Al-Qaeda linked groups and other terrorist factions will welcome further bloodshed and fighting. However, many rebel groups are more ‘moderate’ and would be willing to accept a solution if it will end the bloodshed. Additionally,The US can put pressure on countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey backing some of these groups and the more extremist elements.
Saudi and Qatar are desperate for American weapons for protection against Iran. Barely mentioned in the media, is the US plan to sell nearly $100 Billion in arms to the Saudis. I think the proposed arm sales is incredibly stupid, but since the US is determined to go ahead with it, the weapons can be used as a bargaining chip. Qatar, among the worst offenders, is a small country and even more vulnerable to Iran. America has a strong hand if needed to use to bargain with Qatar. Turkey can be pressured as a member of NATO, which requested patriot missiles to defend the country against a possible attack from Syria.
Note, this is a NON interventionist approach. I oppose American involvement in Syria, and questioned the approach of ‘Assad needs to go.’ The current US and European policy has become more interventionist, which has helped the Sunni rebels win, making a bad situation even worse. I oppose this policy as I make clear.
Even with this help from our ‘allies’, my suggestion is far from perfect. However, the American and European policy of insisting on an outright Sunni rebel victory and excluding the Alawites is reminiscent to the awful mistakes we made in Iraq. The situation in Syria is so complex the outcome will have an impact in numerous countries. I hope we do not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration.