An interview with Alexandre Latsa

GRA: Western media confidently say that the fall of the current Syrian regime is inevitable. In your opinion, how well founded this prediction is, and is there some political power that can bring order to this situation?
A.L.:Technically and militarily, it seems to me that the Syrian army has the ability to defend the constitutional order in Syria as it has close to 500,000 soldiers, and also because the army has been well-trained and equipped by the Soviet Union and then, by today’s Russia.
But the (Syrian and foreign) rebel fighters who are operating in Syria today are backed by the Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar mainly) and therefore have access to endless funding sources. This is the main risk for the Syrian regime today: tens of thousands of foreign fighters coming to fight in Syria, for money and also to train themselves, especially as the Syrian borders are uncontrollable.
I do not believe that the Western military coalition will actively support the rebels by providing them weapons, because the Gulf monarchies already deal with it and because they fear that in case of Assad’s fall, those weapons could be used against their interest in the region, as well as against Israel. On the other hand and consequently, they provide logistical and tactical support. British Special Forces for example operate from Cyprus and spy Syrian soldiers’ moves, informing keeping the rebels up to date about it.
The financial aspect is essential in my opinion because Today nobody knows how long the Syrian regime can last in a state of war and siege, being financially strangled by the international community. So I think Syria will face a very long war, which will totally destroy the country and that it is therefore difficult to imagine how the regime could survive in the medium or long term without any external support. For the regime to last, alone, it will need supply in fuel, weapons as well as some financial assistance. And this is probably at that moment that the non aligned countries like Russia, China and Iran have their role to play.
GRA: How likely is a forceful U.S. intervention in the Syrian conflict and attempt to violently overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad (or the U.S. will keep a distance and will not dare to risk)? Under circumstances of such a possibility, what consequences it will bring to America itself?
A.L.: Regarding foreign intervention, I do not see a Western military intervention occurring because the Syrian regime's military has a strong ability to defend itself, and also because a resolution project opening the road for a military intervention is unlikely to bypass the Security Council of the UN. It would of course be blocked by Russia and China.
The only risk I think would have been that the Western coalition would have used Turkey to do in Syria the job that France and UK have done in Libya. But the Turkish public opinion is much more informed than the Western one about what’s going on in Syria, and therefore strongly hostile to such a military intervention. So I doubt any military action against Syria will be driven by Turkey.
But I guess we face this time a totally new scenario. The Gulf monarchies Finance the tens of thousands of foreign fighters that operate in Syria. The only question we should ask ourselves is this one: in case Syria falls, where are all those mercenaries going to go fight? I think the Russian Caucasus could be targeted since everyone (radical Islamists and Americans) agree to destabilize Russia.

GRA: How do you assess Russia's position in this issue? Is Russia able to compromise, yielding to the wiles of the West (for example, the proposal of Hillary Clinton to establish demilitarized zone), despite the fact, that Russia has already received a very difficult experience in the situation in Libya?
A.L.: Russian diplomacy has a very clear and stable position, and in my opinion will neither allow no-fly zone nor any western military intervention. But again, this diplomatic position is not enough to ensure that the Syrian regime will not collapse in a middle or long term.
Now, will Russia "logistically" support Syria? We can think yes, and in a relatively active way: I see no reason why Russia does not continue to actively support for Syria.
We recently spoke of Syria’s integration in the customs union; it is a misfortune that this integration was not done earlier. Also, I am wondering why Syria did not already join the Shanghai Organization, as Turkey obviously wants to do, which seems totally non logical since the country is a NATO power.
GRA: How, in your opinion, will deploy the situation after the overthrow of Bashar Assad? According to the information, disseminated through the media, there are already dozens of catastrophic scenarios.
A.L.: Unlike Gaddafi's Libya which was a regime based on one man, Syria has real political structure and a strong popular support. The regime does not only manage the country with authority but by a subtle balance in between communities. It is even quite possible that the regime survives the departure of Bashar al-Assad. But this will obviously not be tolerated neither by the Syrians opponents, nor by the foreign mercenaries.
Therefore a complete reversal of the regime and of the Syrian political system will probably lead to a situation similar to Iraq. In Syria nearly 30% of the population (the minorities) fear above all that Syria becomes a tough regime under control of the Muslim Brotherhood’s galaxy, which would likely leave them very few rights.
I would like to add that the "Muslim brotherhood" has also taken political control of both SNC and of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. The analyses from this observatory concerning the Syrian conflict flood the French Media mainstream. Jean-Louis Doublet, editor of the Middle East office of the worldwide known French AFP, said he grants as much credit to this observatory as to many others associations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. I am therefore puzzled about the objectivity of the French Media mainstream at that point.

GRA: One possible scenario is the territorial division of Syria into three parts. Chagry Erhan, Director of the Center of Strategic Research of the European peoples, believes that the Baath regime that is being removed from power will try to create a new state on the basis of belonging to a madhhab through Latakia-Tartus, what can lead to a decision of destruction or assimilation of the Sunni population. In addition, such a step (creation of a new state) can undertake also Kurds. And here raises a difficult question - how to prevent the partition of the country? Erhan believes that once the government will intervene in the process by violent means, this will lead to more bloodshed. How likely do you think, this scenario is?
A.L.: Yes this is the Irakian scenario I mentioned earlier and leading to a partition of fact, ot a legal one, and this time without the U.S. Army on the ground to potentially restrict the chaos.
That said, millions of Syrians who belong to minorities certainly won’t agree to give up their status and privileges, particularly the Alawite minority.
I think this is an equation without solution.
The potential implosion of Syria would have serious consequences both in Turkey and in Iraq, and we already see that the clashes broke out with the Kurdish army. This implosion would also destabilize Lebanon, while the takeover of Sunni radicals would represent a serious threat to minorities in the region, and increase the pressure on Israel, especially on the Golan.
Anyway the process of the Arab Spring that began in 2010 led to the rise of radical Sunni Islamism, through the political takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood galaxy, which has so far the support the America, but also of Salafist groups supported themselves by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This process resulted in a global aggression against the non-aligned Muslim states, and obviously against the Shiite axis as well.
This global process is explosive and in no way, in my opinion, serves the interests of Russia, a country in which the Muslim Brotherhood is prohibited as a religious movement, and Wahhabism is being military fought, especially in the Caucasus. I think that Russia will unfortunately face a new war in the Caucasus quiet soon.