Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime will soon be no more, says a former defense intelligence analyst who has been closely monitoring the violence in Syria.
“In my mind, the regime’s forces could collapse at any time now,” Jeffrey White, a 34-year veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency who now serves as a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Thursday at a panel discussion on Syria organized by his think tank.
“So how long does the regime got? In my view, at best, a few months, more likely some weeks, you know, a few weeks.”
Since the uprising against Assad’s regime began 21 months ago, the bloody and often brutal conflict is believed to have claimed the lives of tens of thousands civilians and combatants. But the rebel forces have now gained momentum, and the Assad regime is in a perilous position, White said during his presentation.
“In my mind, the likely prospects are for the regime’s position to deteriorate further, perhaps dramatically, in the weeks ahead, unless there’s some major change by the regime in its approach to the war,” White said.
“That could be large-scale intervention by Hezbollah forces, Iranian intervention in some way, although it’s sometimes hard to see how that could happen, or maybe the use of chemical weapons. Those are ways the regime could change, or potentially — or hopefully from its standpoint — change the direction of the battle.”
But as it stands now, Assad’s forces are “starting to look like a defeated army,” he said.
White went on to outline several indicators outsiders might look for that would further demonstrate the end of Assad’s regime is nigh.
“We might see some desperate pleas by the regime’s allies to get a ceasefire, sort of before a massacre occurs,” White said.
“We might see another U.N. effort to broker a ceasefire as the rebels close in on Damascus and the regime’s last days are evident. Could see evacuation of Russian citizens or may see the abandonment of the regime by its allies.”
He also said that regime leaders might flee the country and “suicides by regime leaders” could occur.
Whole army units could begin to defect to the rebels or go “rogue,” he said.
“My favorite indicator would be the burning of papers at the Iranian embassy,” he added. “We’ll know it’s over when we see smoke coming up out of the Iranian embassy.”
Iran is a major ally of Assad’s regime and has supported it throughout the conflict.