Just as once in a while I go back to my favorite Hemingway passages, lately I've been going back to some footage I shot years ago of the Aleppo souk -- the most extraordinary of all Middle Eastern souks. It's like being shot in the back; I was as fond of the souk's architecture as of its people and traders. Weeks ago, most of the souk -- the living pulse of Aleppo for centuries -- was set on fire and destroyed by the "rebels" of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The tragedy continues. The Syrian state, political and military security apparatus will maintain its mini-blitzkriegs -- with no second thoughts for "collateral damage." On the opposing side, "rebel" commanders will be betting on a new Saudi-Qatari-encouraged Supreme Military Council.
The Salafis and Salafi-jihadis of the al-Nusrah Front -- 7th century fanatics, beheading enthusiasts and car-bombing operatives who do the bulk of the fighting -- were not invited. After all, the al-Nusrah Front has been branded a "terrorist organization" by Washington.
So with the al-Nusrah fanatics probably disguising their Islamically correct beards under a prosaic hoodie, expect plenty more "rebel" advances on Damascus -- despite two major beatings (last July and then this month), courtesy of Syrian government counter-offensives. After all, that lavish training by US, British and Jordanian Special Forces has got to yield some results, not to mention the loads of extra lethal weapons provided by those paragons of democracy in the Persian Gulf. By the way, the al-Nusrah Front controls sections of devastated Aleppo.
Sectarian hatred rules
Then there's the Orwellian, brand new National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces -- a Washington-Doha co-production. Meet the new boss, same as the old (lousy) boss, which was the Syrian National Council (SNC). It's just rhetoric; the only thing that matters for the "National Coalition" is to get more lethal weapons. And they love al-Nusrah, even if Washington doesn't.
Qatar unloaded tons of weapons "like candy" (according to a US arms dealer) in "liberated" Libya. Only after the Benghazi blowback did the Pentagon and the State Department wake up to the fact that weaponizing the Syrian rebels may be, well, the road to more blowback. Translation: Qatar will keep unloading tons of weapons in Syria. The US will keep "leading from behind."
Expect more horrible sectarian massacres as the one in Aqrab. Here is the most authoritative version of what may have really happened. This proves once again that what the NATOGCC "rebels" are actually winning is the YouTube war. So expect more massive, relentless waves of spin and propaganda - with Western corporate media cheerleading of the Syrian "freedom fighters" putting to shame the 1980s jihad in Afghanistan.
Expect more major distortions of context, as when Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, "The fighting will become even more intense, and [Syria] will lose tens of thousands and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of civilians... If such a price for the removal of the president seems acceptable to you, what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable."
Expect more sectarian hatred, as in Sunni Sheikh and al-Jazeera star Yusuf al-Qaradawi casually issuing a fatwa legitimizing the killing of millions of Syrians, be they military or civilian, as long as they are Alawites or Shi'ites.
Sectarian hatred will rule, with Qatar in the lead, followed by Saudis with large pocketbooks and assorted hardcore Islamists. Agenda; war against Shi'ites, against Alawites, against secularists, even against moderates, not only in Syria but all across the Middle East.
A Patriot vs Iskander face-off
The new Syrian Army strategy boils down to a major pull-back from countryside backwaters and bases, concentrating their troops in cities and towns.
Expect the overall strategy of the NATOGCC club to remain more or less the same; bog down the Syrian Army in as many areas as possible; demoralize them; and keep oiling the terrain for a possible North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention (the chemical weapons hype and the relentless carping over a "humanitarian catastrophe" are part of the extensive psy ops package).
The Syrian Army may have the heavy weapons; but when confronting a tsunami of mercenaries and Salafi-jihadists fully trained and weaponized by the NATOGCC club, the whole thing may take years, Lebanon civil war-style. That leads us to the next "best" option -- which is in fact a spin-off; the death of the Syrian state by a thousand, make it a million, cuts.