Ephialtes of Damascus

Huffington Post Greece – Oct. 16, 2017

Over the past two months, several articles have been published in the international press that talked about the victory of Assad in his war against his people who revolted against him in early 2011. These articles began to spread especially after the fall of the city of Halab in the hands of the forces of the Assad regime and the Russian-backed militias supporting it, and intensified, when these militias began to control more territories than ISIS in the eastern part of Syria, reaching the strategic city of Deir ez-Zor.

This victory put forward by media was enriched by many writers and political analysts adjoining the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and came after the murder of at least 600.000 Syrian civilians with various types of weapons, including internationally forbidden chemicals, and the displacement of 11 million people from their homes and land, as well as the destruction of at least 70% of the infrastructure, houses, hospitals, places of worship and schools in the country. In an earlier research in the Telegraph newspaper, it is confirmed that 1/3 of the Alevites capable of fighting whom Assad used to support his regime have been killed, and the other 1/3 are injured or disabled. An entire generation of Syrian youth, who has stopped studying because of the war, has also been destroyed and a profound wound has been carved into the Syrian people that will not close soon. Has Assad really won?

Over the last two weeks there has been a new advance of the ISIS forces to the detriment of the Assad regime and its supporters, as the terrorist organization managed to cut the road between Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra and control a series of strategic cities and hills within few days. These clashes cost a lot of soldiers and officers in Moscow and hundreds of fighters of the Assad and terrorist Hezbollah forces. Assad took months to gain control of these cities, but lost them in a very short space of time. This confirms that his victory is nothing more than a propaganda campaign fueled by his Russian and Iranian allies and some Westerners adjoining Moscow.

The conflict between Russia and America on the energy sources of eastern Syria is still in its infancy. Both sides are seriously aware of the importance of this region. Therefore, changing the equation on Syrian territory does not require much effort from the US side to make Russia move on to new strategic calculations. Putin’s visit to Ankara in the past week and his pressure on Erdoğan to complete the Astana deal in order to reduce the presence of the Assad forces deployed across the border with the areas controlled by the armed opposition in northern Syria and their transfer on the eastern front, underlines the Russian impasse in the eastern part of Syria. Has Assad really won?

At least 20 US military bases have been set up in Syrian territory, including two military airports. France has two other bases in northern Syria. Britain has its own base in southern Syria near the US Al-Tanf base on the Syrian-Jordan border. Russia has at least 12 military bases scattered between western, central and southern Syria and at least 5.000 Russian soldiers and 2.000 belonging to the Chechen military police. Russia has also hired private Russian security companies to fight in Syria. Turkey controls the “Euphrates Shield” area in the north of the country and maintains 3 military bases in addition to deploying at least 5.000 Turkish soldiers in the region. Iran has at least 10 military bases across Syria. Even the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, ranked in international terrorist lists, has its own military bases in the center and south of Syria, in addition to thousands of Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis hired by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to fight in the ranks of Assad forces.

Is Assad the winner or is he converting Syria into an international and regional war arena? In fact, he is nothing but Ephialtes, the traitor of Damascus. His existence only gives the Russian and Iranian presence some legitimacy in order not to see the bitter reality that Russia, Iran and other forces on the Syrian territory are occupying countries that exist there to preserve their interests and increase their level of influence in the region. According to information, Assad has asked Moscow to allow him to visit the city of Halab in order to deliver a victorious speech after the forces of the Syrian armed opposition have left the eastern section. Russia’s response was direct: Niet. Has Assad really won?