By Henry J. Reske and Kathleen Walter – NewsMax
The Syrian government is likely to collapse within the month, a move that could change the makeup of the Middle East chess board and transform Syria into a dagger pointed at “the heart of Russia and Iran,” retired Gen. Paul Vallely told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
The co-author of “Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror” said Syria could fall to opposition forces “within weeks” and that the Russians have brought in new T82 tanks at the port city of Latakia, a possible exit point for the Russians to evacuate President al-Assad should the regime fall.
Vallely believes the country is critical to the balance of power in the region and that the United States should be providing humanitarian aid to the rebels.
“If you look at the Middle East as a chess board you see that the players, the power players are lining up,” he said. “You have the power players like Iran, Russia, China lining up on one side of the board, and then on the other side of the board you have Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar supporting the opposition groups.
“The whole compass there when you look at it and you look at the surrounding other countries there . . . they all surround Israel. So Syria really is a critical country right now that we need to be helping in some way working through the proxies.”
Vallely was emphatic against U.S. boots on the ground. “We do not need American troops on the ground, but we certainly should be helping the future of Syria because if Syria ends and turns the right way then that will be a dagger into the heart of Russia and Iran and completely changes the chess board in the Middle East. So it’s very important that we be in there playing as all the other major players are . . . even supplying the opposition forces with humanitarian assistance, aid of some kind. That would be very helpful to them.”
Vallely, who served in the Vietnam War and retired in 1992 as deputy commanding general, Pacific command, said should the Assad regime collapse there are a number of power scenarios.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is a player on the chessboard and they have aligned and are in there supporting certain elements of the opposition forces, not the ones I’ve been dialoguing with,” he said. “You also have al-Qaida elements in there with certain opposition groups. So the Free Syrian Army is the group that we should support, and it will be an Islamic government there’s no doubt about it.
“I foresee Syria — if it comes out the right way with the defections of the high Syrian generals and diplomats that have joined the Free Syrian Army effort — it will be an Islamic state, but it will be more secular than would be a Shariah state that we see having been developed in Egypt.”
On other issues, Vallely said: