Attacks by deserters from Syria’s armed forces against Ba’athist targets in the northwest appear to be on the rise again today, leading to further speculation that the violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists may be spiraling the country into a civil war.
Even Russia, which has been downplaying the situation and defending Syria in the international community, seems to have finally recognized just how serious a threat the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) fighters have become to Assad’s continued rule. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the situation is already “looking very much like a civil war.”
And while it doesn’t look like Russia is set to abandon the Assad regime, there are growing signs that the region is awakening to the reality that the regime may not survive. Even Iran, seemingly the most committed of Syria’s allies, is said to be holding meetings with the Syrian opposition, hedging its bets as it were against the prospect of an Assad-less Syria.
In the near-term the most serious threat to Assad’s already precarious position seems to be coming from the Arab League, which has been ratcheting up diplomatic pressure and looks to be less than 48 hours from declaring Syria in violation of demands to end the violence – a move they say will lead to sanctions and potentially Arab League backing for a UN Security Council resolution against Assad.
Adding to the situation, one of the top leaders of Syria’s faction of the Muslim Brotherhood spoke at a news conference today in Istanbul, saying his faction would welcome a Turkish invasion of Syria to “protect” the public from Syria’s crackdown. Turkey has been a major backer of the FSA, as well as one of the major exile blocs.