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[alpha] INSIGHT - SYRIA - Alawite officer defections? - ME1473 and ME1507

Released on 2012-03-15 20:00 GMT

Email-ID 206896
Date 2011-12-15 01:26:17
** The coup scenario seems most likely in my opinion. And if these reports
of Alawite officer defections are true, then that is a potential sign that
the unity of the army (that matters) is breaking. There are also rumors
of the Syrian FM resigning, but a source claims that Bashar refused his
resignation for fear of exposing the problems he's having within the

SOURCE: ME1473 and ME1507
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: ME1473 is a well-connected Syrian political analyst;
ME1507 is a prominent Syrian opposition activist based out of Beirut
SOURCE RELIABILITY: ME1473 - B-C; ME1507 - C (opposition bias)

ME1473 and ME1507 say military defections are a real challenge both to the
defectors and the regime. Army defectors are instantly killed should they
be arrested. One Alawite officer (lieutenant colonel Mohammad Musa)
defected during the summer and was immediately killed. The two sources
gave e an identical assessment about regime reaction to defections.
Defectors that are captured by the forces of the regime are killed with no
regard to their sectarian affiliation. Since the Alawites operate as a
cohesive network, defections among them have been more difficult than for
Sunnis. ME1507 told me that 1200 troops defected yesterday in the north
and they included five Alawite officers. In Der'a, 20 Alawite officers
have defected since Asad gave his ominous interview to the ABC. The
interview, in which Asad said he was not responsible for killing
demonstrators, has convinced many Alawite officers that Asad is trying to
exonerate himself and implicate his Alawite supporters. He says Asad gave
a stupid interview that will accelerate a Alawite led coup to oust him.

ME1473 says a military coup in Syria is likely to happen within few weeks.
He says there are many hurdles to overcome before a coup occurs. Alawite
officers have demands and they want to make sure they will not be targeted
after Asad's overthrow. He says what is currently being debated includes
surrendering political authority to Sunnis, while Alawites maintain
control of the army and Sunnis assume control of the air force. He says
the post-Asad political system in Syria will observe the presence of a
delicate balance of power that would make it virtually impossible for
members of one sect to persecute another sect. The ouster of Asad is a
matter of successfully dealing with the nuances of Syrian society and its
heterogenous components.