We know from our satellites that there are some locales where the Syrian government did remove some forces, such as Da’el (graphics 1 and 2) in Daraa province and Taftanaz in Idlib, following several days of assaults against the towns.
Our Syrian follow-up sitrep is not encouraging if the reader is hoping for good news. We were skeptical of Kofi Anan's "brokered peace deal" particularly since Assad has one overriding priority in his mind at present. He wants to survive. He cannot quit unless there is somewhere to go with reasonable assurance of continued vital signs. He knows that he will be pursued when he leaves, and has no doubt calculated that his best chances of living a few more years are to stay put. What scenarios can Assad expect? Here's our opinion.
1. Collapse of his military forces and a Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi-like death at the hands of a howling mob
2. Military "victory" and the collapse of rebel opposition, and a return to "things as they once were"..
3. Military stalemate followed by Assad's exit (also cross reference to Swiss banking system) to a nearby country with private assurances of safety. This may work for a while, but might be followed by an assassination.
4. Military stalemate followed by Assad's exit to a nearby country, followed by World Court prosecution, extradition back to Syria for trial and eventual execution. The composition of teh Syrian military has changed since the civil war commenced. Significant defection has occurred among the ranks, however foreign mercenary troops have been introduced to augment loyalist regular units-a species of Einsatzgruppen. Assad's loyalist regime has not bee effective in its use of media to shape public opinion in its favor, and in the long run that will be a factor against them. It is also true that war (particularly against one's own citizens) is expensive. One day in the near future Assad will have problems with his checking balance. He must spend vast amounts of his treasure in an attempt to survive, and yet that is still very much in doubt.
From National Post: Washington The United States released satellite images on Friday that it said showed Syria has artillery poised to hit residential areas and has moved some forces from one town to another despite calls for a withdrawal.
From Haaretz: "This is not the reduction in offensive Syrian government security operations that all agree must be the first step for the Annan initiative to succeed," Ford, who left Damascus when the U.S. embassy was closed in February, said on Facebook. "The regime and the Syrian people should know that we are watching. The regime cannot hide the truth," he added. Annan's plan, accepted by Assad two weeks ago, calls for Syria to "immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centers, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers."
From Sky: The violence came as time ran out for a truce plan, devised by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, to come into effect.
Effect of sanctions on Syria
From Reuters: The ministry said the Maltese transport authorities took immediate action last week on learning that the Iranian ship flying the Maltese merchant shipping flag was carrying Syrian oil in breach of sanctions. Any other Maltese-flagged ships found to be breaking the sanctions would also be delisted, it added. "After the necessary verifications with the owners of the Motor Tanker 'Tour' and other ships, it was decided that such ships' registration certificates would be suspended immediately and they will be struck off the Maltese merchant shipping register within a month," the ministry said.
From Arkansas Online: The Treasury Department announced Friday that it had placed the Syrian defense ministers, the deputy chief of staff of the army and Assad’s security chief on a blacklist that freezes any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions.
From Pan ARMENIAN: The EU allowed shipments to continue during the winter for humanitarian reasons, but it has now blacklisted the Syrian company that handled LPG imports. "LPG deliveries to Syria have stopped because of sanctions," said a director at Naftomar.
Critics charged that by delivering the fuel, worth at least $55 million each month during the winter, Naftomar might have been helping to extend Assad's rule.
From 9 News: Faisal al-Qudsi, the son of a former Syrian president who was heavily involved in the country's economic liberalisation, said sanctions were affecting the entire country, not just President Bashar al-Assad's regime. "The apparatus of the government is slowly disintegrating and it's almost non-existent in trouble spots like Homs, Idlib, Deraa," he told the BBC World Service in London.