Over the past few days, three major Syrian facts have been confirmed:
First, the observers’ protocol and Damascus’ acceptance of it following a period of procrastination are costly in terms of bloodshed in a long-term confrontation.
Second, the regime in Damascus will not give up easily and will not shy away from doing whatever it can, including crimes imputed to Al-Qaeda, in order to lengthen its stay in power.
Third, the Syrian uprising will not end or surrender regardless of the difficulties and challenges to which it is confronted.
The confrontation is broadening and increasingly-sectarian violence is on the rise while Iraq is collapsing on a massive scale against the backdrop of originally sectarian causes.
Therefore, the Syrian regime is likely to adopt the following as part of its arsenal of potential options: The confrontation may – sooner or later and regardless of any foreign intervention or lack thereof – force us to withdraw geographically to the Alawi Mountains. However, it will be difficult to defend this small region for a prolonged period of time if it is not linked to a broader geographical area. This will prove extremely hard near the Lebanese banks of the Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi due to the presence of an overwhelmingly Sunni majority there, one that vastly supports the uprising in Syria. Still, this hypothesis may seem applicable in the northeastern part of Lebanon, which is home to a staunch pro-Hezbollah Shia majority traditionally known for its good relations with key Syrian security figures.
Such a scenario will not be all flowers and daisies, as it is confronted to the obstacle represented by Homs (and Al-Qusayr) in Syria as well as by major Sunni gatherings in the Bekaa.
This calls for breaking resistance in these regions beyond repair by launching extremely harsh and repressive military actions, “pursuing Al-Qaeda,” etc.
This goes without saying that Hezbollah’s solidarity with the Syrian regime along the joint Lebanese-Syrian border is far less costly than solidarity as expressed by igniting Lebanon’s border with Israel. Hezbollah’s response to this demand is far more guaranteed than its responding to the demand of opening the southern front. In this respect, some even say that the party does not respond to any such demands without a direct and conclusive request by Iran and that the latest events in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh alluded that Syria is looking for other tools to undertake this mission.
Of course, one cannot confirm the existence of such a scenario. In contrast, no one can deny it either, especially since the most important hotspots in Syria and the most volatile regions in Lebanon bear witness to this theory. Furthermore, no one is ruling out the discussion of this possibility and propositions to address it. This holds all the more true since the party involved is merely concerned by its own survival.
In that case, what is the opinion of the majority of the Lebanese people? What initiative will this majority undertake to defend its country and its citizens?
This article is a translation of the original, which was posted on the NOW Arabic site on Monday December 26, 2011