Interesting analysis of what we are seeing in Damascus today -
1558 GMT: Why has the regime cut the internet? To understand a possible answer, one has to understand the duality of the insurgency.
The insurgency has many pieces, but to oversimplify it comes in two varieties. The first is what we see in Deir Ez Zor, or Aleppo, or Idlib province - a semi-functional military apparatus, either coordinated at the brigade level or on a larger scale, operating to win military victories, destroy Assad resources, and capture bases, equipment, and territory. This element to the FSA has been building for many months, and has not really lost a battle since September - and the longer trend is that it has been advancing steadily since June. However, in recent weeks, this force has exploded onto the scene in a series of one-sided victories from Damascus to Aleppo, from al Raqqah to Deir ez Zor, and beyond.
But in Damascus in particular there has been a creeping threat - while there is no place for a traditional military to hide, insurgents have been eating away at the Assad regime for many months. Despite efforts to put them down, insurgents have been able to hit regime targets and then melt away into the civilian populations, operating very much like insurgents in Iraq, or even South Vietnam - or even our own revolution (Google the "Minute Men.").
This is the real threat - while the military wing of the insurgency is creeping forward, slowly encircling the capital, the hidden threat lies in many neighborhoods across the city and its suburbs, and this two pronged threat has toppled a half dozen bases around Damascus in just the last several weeks alone.
Now the target is the airport - with that closed, all sense of normalcy will be gone. Over the last several nights there have been attempts to take it from the Assad regime, but now it appears that those attempts may be serious enough to close the airport - maybe for good. Certainly, this news will shake confidence of the international airlines, who are already hesitant to send their people and planes into what looks like a warzone.
The heaviest elements of the Syrian opposition military are closing a noose around Idlib city, Deir Ez Zor City, and Aleppo city - once those cities are surrounded, or outright captured, it is now clear that Al Raqqah and Hassakah in the north, and Hama in the west, will be the new targets. Meanwhile, the Syrian insurgents are making a play for Daraa, and are attempting to build strength around Damascus while reducing Assad's military advantage. But bad news for the regime spreads - many of the bases recently taken by the insurgents, particularly around Damascus, don't look as though they were heavily fought over. Assad's military morale is the lowest it has been. While a full-scale military Juggernaut is rapidly devouring the rest of his country, Assad's closest defenses could dissolve in a matter of hours if the insurgents continue their rate of successes in and around Damascus.
And so the internet has been cut - a disconnected insurgency, and activists who cannot access each other or the outside world, will have trouble galvanizing their supporters or organizing the final push. Meanwhile, if bad news can be hidden away from Assad's own soldiers, defections may not increase as much as they would otherwise.
It won't work - it didn't work when Assad cut the internet in Homs, or in Deir Ez Zor, or in Aleppo, or in Idlib province. The opposition has been planning for this day. Furthermore, it's clear that this is too little, too late. Assad believed he had enough strength to win - he believed his own propaganda - and he was wrong. Now he may be realizing this.
To be clear, an imminent fall of the Assad regime is not an inevitability - but it is a distinct possibility. Assad's defenses may not disintegrate as the fighting gets closer and closer to his palace. The regime may have enough strength left to hold off the wolves - but it may not. Even if it does, the rest of the insurgency is coming eventually, and Assad's resources have clearly been redistributed towards Damascus to hold on as long as he can.
[link to www.enduringamerica.com