Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad loyalists near Damascus International Airport forced its closure on Thursday, leaving Assad’s forces weaker than ever.
The fighting—some of the worst since the Syrian civil war began almost two years ago—saw the rebels momentarily taking control of the main road connecting Damascus with the main airport in clashes that reached within 1.2 miles of the airport itself. The airport was then closed, affecting flights by Emirates airline and EgyptAir. These airlines are some of the few that are still operating in Syria. Most other airlines have already suspended services to Syria over the 20 months of the war.
Disruption of the normal operations of Syria’s main airport is significant. Assad’s government relies on it for supplies, money, weapons, and even for its global image. It connects Damascus to the rest of the world. Analysts at Stratfor noted that “Putting the airport in jeopardy is a symbolic success for the rebels” (November 30). These rebels have already seized control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and are now zeroing in on Damascus, Assad’s seat of power. They have taken over some military bases and airfields around the country. But maintaining hold of airfields and airports, Stratfor surmised, is not ideal for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy. “The Syrian rebels don’t necessarily need to take over control of the infrastructure in order to prove that al Assad is weak. Putting the infrastructure in jeopardy is enough to do that,” wrote Stratfor.
Soon after the airport was shut down, the Internet completely blacked out in Syria on Thursday and Friday. While both sides pointed fingers at their adversaries, it appears to be Assad’s forces that were responsible for the communications blackout. The rebels would have more to lose than the government would from the blackout. They use information technology to broadcast images of the civil war, and communicate among themselves and with their foreign supporters.
The U.S. has not yet come out in full support of the opposition forces in Syria. Washington has not formally recognized the newly formed opposition coalition, as have Britain, France, Turkey and other nations. The Washington Post wrote that there were indications from Washington officials that the Obama administration might change its position in two weeks, when the group Friends of Syria will hold a meeting in Morocco. In the meantime, the U.S. has spent about $50 million in “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, such as satellite telephones and other communications equipment. Quoting State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the Post noted that this equipment was being put to good use as “the [Assad] regime does appear to be resorting to cutting off all kinds of communication—cellular networks, land lines, as well as Internet service across the country.”
Again, as Stratfor assessed, the blackout is also a sign of a weakening Assad regime, regardless of who was to blame. Stratfor wrote, “Either they [Assad’s forces] lost control of the network or the threat they are facing is so pervasive that they have to shut down the entire national network instead of just localized networks.”
It appears only a matter of time before regime change occurs in Syria. Since Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first published The King of the South booklet in 1996, we have indicated a prophesied realignment of nations in the Middle East into two main groupings: the king of the south—radical Islam under the sway of Iran—and the “Psalm 83 Alliance” of Arab states that will ally together against Iran’s group. This Psalm 83 prophecy indicates that Syria will not be allied with Iran for much longer. When these alliances fully play out as prophesied in the Bible, the world will be a giant step closer to Jesus Christ’s return. For a deeper understanding of how nations are aligning in the Middle East, and what that means for you, study The King of the South. ▪