Assad admits he's given up on defending parts of his own country

We’ve been saying for some time now that Syria wasn’t just a mess… it’s no longer really a country. It is, sad to say, a failed state in nearly every sense of the term and the inmates are currently running the asylum. But if you needed any further proof of that, check out some of the rare admissions coming from the nation’s alleged leader.

The Syrian leader said the army did not have the manpower to defend the entire country, especially as rebel groups were receiving increased support from outside – a reference to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

“Sometimes, in some circumstances, we are forced to give up areas to move those forces to the areas that we want to hold onto,” Mr Assad said in a televised speech to dignitaries in Damascus.

“We must define the important regions that the armed forces hold onto so it doesn’t allow the collapse of the rest of the areas.”

The BBC’s Jim Muir – in neighbouring Lebanon – says it has been evident for some months that Syrian government forces have been focusing on defending certain key areas while not doing everything they might to defend outlying regions where the army is really overstretched.

Bashar al-Assad has lost control and the rest of the nations engaged in the region should just come to grips with that. By his own admission more than half of his army is gone, either through death, defections or simply taking off their uniforms and returning to what’s left of their homes. The provincial capital of Idlib, as well as Palmyra have fallen to some combination of ISIS and the rest of the Islamic militants fighting in the streets across the nation. At this point, Assad is holding on to Damascus, Homs and Hama… and really that’s about it. The dead on both sides number in the hundreds of thousands according to UN observers and he is unable to provide basic services or even physical security to the remaining citizens who have not fled.

All of this comes on the heels of news that the United States and Turkey are getting ready to create some sort of “safe zone” (you’re not suppose to say “no fly zone” for some reason) along the Turkish border with Syria. And it’s being done pretty much without Assad.

Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say.

The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians.

The fact that we’re stuck working with Turkey here (not particularly the best of allies these days) is a sign of the times and probably best left to debate in another thread. But it’s a clear indicator of how far gone the mad leader in Damascus is. The question for today seems to be… how much longer do we let this fester? Syria is gone for all intents and purposes. It’s overrun with terrorists, wannabe terrorists and a collection of bad actors mixed in with frightened people who have nobody left to protect them. Do we just bail out and leave the place to become a complete failed state and sanctuary for terrorism on the doorstep of Israel, Jordan and Lebanon? (By the way, I’m not entirely arguing against that. Sometimes you just have to write off a bad investment.) Assad apparently isn’t going to step down while he’s still vertical and there doesn’t seem to be a path to stability.

Is it time to just walk away or should we be looking at pressuring Turkey into a more active partnership and begin flattening the place? Neither sounds like a particularly appealing plan.