The Final Battle for Syria?

The Syrian regime has been dealt its most serious blow in sixteen months of repressing and killing its own people. The bombing of its military heart by revolutionaries may accomplish what has eluded endless and fruitless diplomatic efforts.

Whoever took out the Syrian National Security Headquarters - the command and control hub of Assad’s regime - may well have delivered the catalyst for the final battle for Syria.

The Brigade of Islam and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have both claimed credit for the bombing, which rather symbolically, included the Minister of Defence amongst its casualties. The Minister also happens to be Assad’s brother-in-law, which means he’s finally been affected personally. 

The FSA is most likely to have carried out the operation, which in itself is quite revealing. It shows the rag tag bunch of civilians protesting for reform as opposed to regime change when this all began last March, is developing into a more sophisticated fighting force.

Don’t get me wrong - sophistication when killing is no badge of honour for a regime, revolutionaries, mercenaries or suicide bombers.

The FSA’s sophistication is more about strategic abilities which minimize its own casualty list, and demonstrate it can penetrate the heart of power in the capital Damascus. Something it certainly could not do only a few months ago.

As the fighting, which is raging on still, indicates, the FSA is able to hold some ground against the highly weaponised Syrian army and Assad-loyal militias.

Loyalty is however a concept Assad will be in turmoil over. Oh, how tough that will be, especially if it affects his slumber.

He won’t be counting sheep. It will be endless revision of lists of toadies wondering who in his court could turn on him. It is Shakespeare circa 2012. Chef? Driver? Body guards? Hairdresser? Doctor? Children’s nannies? The list at his level of self indulgence is endless, and that is sure to start inducing paranoia.

If just one, or even a few betrayed the regime by setting up the Security HQ for such a lethal blast, its plausible someone in the palace might also be inclined to do the people a favour.

There’s another serious message in exposing the vulnerability of the Assad regime, and that’s for those top level politicians, military and businesspeople who ensure the continuation of the regime.

Visualising their own immunity being stripped away, is it now time for them to do some serious calculations and decide to jump ship?

Trickles of military personnel and diplomats have already been sneaking away hoping to save themselves, their families, their reputations and perhaps their fortunes by defecting.

Do those closer to the leader’s throne start doing likewise? And with them, Russia and China? After all, if this is the beginning of the final battle (and not a “dead end” as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov insists on referring to the FSA) it’s time to start working out how to do business with Assad’s imminent replacement/s. 

Yes it’s all conjecture at this stage, but while there have been a dizzying array of turning points in this murderous drama, none has struck at the heart of power like the systematic taking-out of the most secure venue in the country.

This is the hub for all the military operations information that comes to Assad. Talk about throwing the replacement Defence Minister a hospital pass. He’s in the job with absolutely no operational archive.

That said, the presence of helicopter gun ships, explosions, gunfire and shelling in the streets of Damascus overnight indicates Assad troops are not yet ready to desist from killing their own people.

Syrians have a right to be terrified about the destruction their President can, and no doubt is unleashing right now. The question is, is he determined to fight to the end - the absolute, bitter, kill me, my wife and children end as the Syrian resistance is? 

Or, will someone in the palace do the honours, before the FSA reaches the front steps?