According to NOW the main reason Assad has not yet attacked in Qalamoun is the certainty that the battle would not be over by the time of the scheduled Geneva Conference. Getting rebels to attend regardless of pressure is hard enough now. In the midst of the war’s biggest battle, it is inconceivable.
Even now rebels will start the battle as strong favorites. Delay makes their military position even better. So it is best to play it coy rather than offer a definitive “no” for now. Rebels owe nada to Obama and Kerry who have broken promises and lied to them from the start. Sweet justice and military sense urges dashing the hopes of the Two Liars at the last minute. That would only duplicate exactly what Obama did to the rebels in the Rose Garden only hours before a scheduled attack.
Some folks are predicting the battle will never occur. But as Charles Lister of Jane's military analysis site points out: Qalamoun is too important for both sides and cannot be left in rebel possession. Hence the side not in possesion has no choice but to attack. By contrast Rebels don’t have to do anything but build up defenses, reinforce and grab whatever they can in the meantime.
In any attack on Qalamoun, the regime will face there major obstacles of which the last two will only grow worse with delay 1) terrain (favors the rebels); 2) weather (winter will soon favor the rebels) and 3) a disparity in numbers likely to be insurmountable by spring. Aware of this, Putin and Obama hope to sucker rebels into Geneva and hope to get concessions which an atrocity-infuriated rebellion will never concede now. A successful peace conference or an alternative mentioned below are the onlyh way of preventing the regime’s cetain military defeat now.
Obama can hardly punish the jihadis for not attending. He can refuse to supply weapons to the moderates and pressure allies to do likewise but it won’t stop Assad from going down at this point. All it will do is to favor the extreme jihadis as the real winner. Sunni allies he has also repeatedly screwed will pay him back by arming the worst of the rebels. NOW also observes that massive regime supply dumps lie close to Qalamoun. It’s not only certain the rebels will seize them but that the best armed and most ruthless faction will take possession from the runts of the litter (moderates repeatedly screwed by Obama). It’s too late to prevent that now.
PREDICTIONS: The rebels will win the Battle of Qalamoun and the war with the jihadi faction taking complete dominance of the movement. Credit for this goes to all of the following with the most guilty listed first: 1. Assad’s fatal decision in March of 2011 to employ Chenchnya-style policy and provoke sectarianism rather than allow serious reform, democracy and human rights; 2. Full support for that choice by Putin, Khamenei and Iran’s Quds Force leader, and 3) a fatal mix of American isolationism, a Bungler in the White House and his Great Rose Garden Betrayal.
The emergence of a well-armed, well-financed Al-Queda-linked Syria will be a for all of the following: Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the USA, the West and Muslims everywhere muslims (including Alawites) regardless of sect. Look for horrors of civil war and related atrocities and poverty will spread to every Sunni country. Russia will enjoy a future in which it is bombed by the very weapons it supplied.
A VERY SLIM, QUICKLY FADING HOPE: A coup that arrests those with blood on their hands, and enables a peace deal and alliance between FSA moderates (if any survive) and non-stained Alawites (if any exist). If any of the folllowing occurs first it will be too late: 1) the Geneva Conference, 2) The outbreak of battle in Qalamoun, and 3) jihadi capure of major regime supply bases in that area.
More updates later. Gotta go. No time for proofreading. Here's the link to NOW's article: