Rebels control Syrian border posts

Juan Cole writes:

Free Syria exists along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq. The Free Syrian Army, somewhat to my surprise, is beginning to take and hold territory, acting more like a conventional army than like a guerrilla movement. Admittedly, the territory is in the boondocks. But these boondocks are crucial because they control border areas and roads between Syria and Turkey on the one side, and Syria and Iraq on the other.

There is some dispute about the significance of holding these outposts since the Syrian border was porous and the FSA had little trouble getting weapons across before the border posts fell. But the real significance of this development is not what supplies the FSA has access to but the supplies it can deny the government. Cole again:

The significance of the FSA taking Abu Kamal, the border crossing with Iraq along the Euphrates road, is that 70% of the goods coming into Syria were coming from the Iraq of PM Nouri al-Maliki, who had refused to join a blockade of Syria because of his new alliance with Iran. But al-Maliki’s attitude is irrelevant if the revolutionaries have Abu Kamal.

An insurgency can function very successfully with a few truckloads of weapons a week. An army needs fuel, parts, uniforms, food to fight at maximum efficiency. Creating shortages is also a form of information engagement: A government can lie about the progress of the war on the front lines but they can’t hide a lack of food in the shops.

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