Nytt

Bashar al-Assad ble rammet både personlig og maktpolitisk igår. Han mistet noen av sine mest verdifulle menn, og de ble drept i senter av maktapparatet, midt i hovedstaden, et sted de burde være trygge.

Angrepet, som myndighetene sier var med selvmordsbomber, men Den frie syriske hæren sier ble utført med fjerndetonasjon, viste at Assad og hans nærmeste ikke er trygg noe sted. Det er et stort psykologisk slag.

Hvis bomben ble sprengt med fjernkontroll er den blitt plassert av noen som hadde adgang. Det betyr en sikkerhetslekkasje av dimensjoner, eller at noen har forrådt regimet. Begge muligheter kan skremme vannet av de som ikke brenner 100 % for Assad. Det begynner å koste å stille opp for regimet. Når selv Asef Shawkat kan bli drept, kan hvem som helst bli det.

Asef Shawkat

Mannen er et begrep i Syria. Han var ett av regimets mest maktfulle, og kjent for sin brutalitet. Han var gift med Assads storesøster Bushra. Historien vil ha det til at han beilet til henne, men fikk nei av faren, Hafez al Assad. Det avskrekket ikke Shawkat. Han gjorde som mytologien og helteeposene beskriver: han bortførte henne. Det kunne blitt hans død. Men Shawkat hadde vist mot. Assad valgte å bruke hans handlekraft. Shawkat ble satt til å lede sikkerhetstjenestene. I Syria gjør det en til den mektigste nest presidenten.

Shawkat vet å beskytte seg. Han har stått for den harde linjen mot opprørerne.

At de lyktes å drepe ham kan ikke overvurderes. Sammen med ham døde flere andre.

The most significant victim was Asef Shawkat — the husband of the president’s older sister, Bushra — who was the deputy chief of staff of the military after years as a top intelligence official. The others killed were Gen. Dawoud A. Rajha, the defense minister and the most prominent Christian in the government; and Maj. Gen. Hassan Turkmani, a previous defense minister serving as the top military aide to Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa.

“Who will replace these people?” asked Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese military officer and a military analyst knowledgeable about Syria. “They are irreplaceable at this stage; it’s hard to find loyal people now that doubt is sown everywhere. Whoever can get to Asef Shawkat can get to Assad.”

“Everyone, even those close to the inner circle, will now be under suspicion,” he said.

State television also said the minister of the interior, Lt. Gen. Mohamed al-Sha’ar, had been gravely wounded but was in stable condition. Hisham Ikhtiar, the head of general security, was reported by some activist organizations among those in critical condition, along with some junior officers, but the official news media did not confirm that.

Åstedet for bombeangrepet sier også sitt om opprørernes evne til å ramme toppen av pyramiden.

The bombing took place in a small, nondescript building in a neighborhood that is home to the country’s elite. The building housed a research center run by the national security agency, one of many overlapping intelligence agencies.

“It was at the heart of the government’s nexus of control,” said an analyst with long experience in Damascus, speaking anonymously because he still travels there often. “If the regime had a center, that was it.”

Brutalitet er det eneste de kan

Den israelske sikkerhetssjefen sier regimet trekker styrker ut av Golan og sender dem til Damaskus. Boligområder bombarderes med tunge våpen. Regimet øker brutaliteten, et tegn på at de ikke har andre midler.

In Jerusalem, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s military intelligence chief, told a parliamentary committee that the Syrian government had withdrawn forces from the Golan Heights to redeploy them in Damascus. He also said satellite images showed that Mr. Assad was directing artillery at highly populated regions and acting “extremely brutally, which displays their desperation and indicates they are unable to find more efficient solutions to pacify the uprisings.”

En 360 graders krig

Krigen pågår nå i 19 av Syrias 24 provinser. Den spinkle opprørshæren som ble kunngjort fra tyrkisk jord for et år siden har på kort tid blitt en trussel mot regimet. Det sier noe om styrken i opprøret, det sier noe om hvor shaky regimet er. Det kan falle fortere enn mange har trodd.

In Washington, Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer and specialist on the Syria military, said Tuesday that sustained combat between government troops and the rebels had spread to nine of the country’s 14 provinces.

Mr. White, a military analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said clashes could exceed 400 this month, versus about 250 in June, according to the opposition’s local coordinating committees. “The regime is now fighting a 360-degree war,” Mr. White said. He said all 13 of the Syrian Army’s combat divisions were engaged in suppressing rebel attacks.

Opprørerne har søkt tilflukt i bydelen i Damaskus som heter Midan, den er full av trange smågater, som gjør det vanskelig å bruke tunge våpen. Men det avskrekker ikke myndighetene. De har tidligere brukt jernneven mot Homs og Hama og ser ut til å være villig til å gjøre det samme mot Midan. Men i Damaskus vil det ha en helt annen virkning.

Indeed, the government seemed prepared to employ the same tactics in and around Midan that it had in other cities like Homs and Hama, where it briefly lost control — isolating them, waiting for the rebels’ ammunition to run low and then pounding them into submission.

Witnesses said the government had deployed a huge security presence in Damascus, isolating embattled neighborhoods. Activists in the Qaboun suburb reported that helicopter gunships were firing at fighters and that one chopper had been shot down. The claim could not be independently corroborated.

Regimet forsøkte å bevare fatningen, men måten hæren og militsen reagerer på, sier det meste: de gikk amok. Angsten gir seg utslag i sinne.

Activists reported an even harsher crackdown, with government soldiers firing indiscriminately in several embattled neighborhoods or from helicopters, especially on the southern part of Damascus where fighting first erupted Sunday. Dozens of people were killed, and defections soared, activists said.

“The regime reacted hysterically to the attack,” said Rami al-Sayyed, an activist in Damascus. “The security forces and thugs infiltrated various neighborhoods, committing all kinds of crimes. Today we cut the head of the snake, but we still have the tail.”

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