Foreign Policy Blogs

If I've Said It Once…

From ABC News:

Syrian army units have clashed with each other over following President Bashar Assad’s orders to crack down on protesters in Daraa, a besieged city at the heart of the uprising, witnesses and human rights groups said Thursday…

“There are some battalions that refused to open fire on the people,” Monajed told The Associated Press, citing witnesses on the ground in Daraa, a city of 75,000 near the Jordanian border. “Battalions of the 5th Division were protecting people, and returned fire when they were subjected to attacks by the 4th Division.”

I can’t stress this enough (as I have here, here, and here).  It all goes back to Crane Brinton, who wrote in the 1930’s in The Anatomy of Revolution:

…it is almost safe to say that no government is likely to be overthrown until it loses the ability to make adequate use of its military and police powers.  That loss of ability may show itself in the actual desertion of soldiers and police to the revolutionists, or in the stupidity with which the government manages its soldiers and police.

In Tunisia, the army refused orders to fire on protesters.  In Egypt, the army announced it would not fire on protesters and ultimately forced Mubarak to step down.  In Libya, the army fractured, with some taking up arms against the regime and some siding with Qaddafi, thus resulting in civil war.  In Bahrain, the army and the country’s rulers are firmly aligned, thus revolutionary success is unlikely.  In Yemen, talks of  Saleh’s exit became serious after Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar defected.  The results of the raging protests will not be determined in Washington, or even by the protesters, but rather by the people with the guns.