Is Syria at a tipping point?

Residents of Damascus are telling western reporters that there are clashes going on between President Assad's loyalist army forces and army defectors in a suburb of the capitol. This is an entirely plausible scenario. Assad can only truly depend on one or two battalion sized armored units officered by Alawites and commanded by his brother in law. There are also about 5,000 fanatical Alawite militiamen who will stick with the dictator to the last. But the bulk of the army is made up of Sunni conscripts. Therefore, it is not surprising that they would balk at firing into crowds of unarmed citizens. The potential for the bulk of the army to turn on Assad has always been there, and for the president, there is not greater nightmare he can imagine. Reuters: Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought gun battles overnight near a northeast Damascus suburb with army defectors who had refused to shoot at a pro-democracy protest, residents said on Sunday. [...] Dozens of soldiers...(Read Full Post)