NATO-led militants will never gain an upper hand against the government of President Assad in Syria, says James Jatras
This comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power is not part of past international agreements and is “impossible” to implement.
Press TV has conducted an interview with James Jatras, a former US Senate foreign policy analyst, from Washington, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: As we look at the latest incidents taking place within Syria, one notices that there is a concerted effort on the parts of the insurgents to take over airbases and airports in order to control the air and skies over Syria. What do you make of that?
Jatras: I think they have a dual purpose. One is the one you mentioned, to deny the government use of those facilities for aircraft.
But I think the other one is for propaganda purposes that the more of the facilities of that sort that can be seized by the opposition, the more they can say that the regime is on its last legs, it’s about to collapse and so forth. I think as then we see a see-saw in these battles within the government regains ground that tends to dampen that kind of presentation.
Press TV: Right, but there’s also this push towards getting an upper edge over the government of Syria and its forces by the insurgents. They are being provided very sophisticated weaponry from the West and its allies within the region. But how sustainable is that? How far along do you think they are in actually matching the Syrian government forces as far as the military might goes?
Jatras: I think they have a long way to go. Most people I talk to believe that the government’s side still has its military forces, its advantage in heavy weaponry intact, that its social base is largely intact, and that the rebels are not likely to win a decisive victory unless there’s an outside correct military intervention of the sort we saw in Libya.
That’s where the real wearisome factor is, that especially if you look at the deployment of the missiles in Turkey, that some kind of incidents could be manufactured that would trigger that kind of intervention.
Press TV: Speaking of the intervention, as long as the Syrian government and army make gains over the insurgence, how long are we going to expect the West, specifically NATO, to just sit by and watch?
Jatras: One can always hope that at some point a reasonable approach will break out and that the Western powers by which we mean primarily the Obama administration in the United States with our regional allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, one can hope that we would take off the table the…demand that Bashar al-Assad step down and open the door to a genuine negotiation as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has called for.
We haven’t gotten there yet, and I still think there are splits within the administration here. There are some people that hope they can find some kind of a pretext, some kind of trigger that will get us to what happened in Libya and that will make the difference here in Syria.