Today BBC News reported that the Syrian opposition had seized a crucial hydroelectric dam that supplies power to the Aleppo region, a hotly contested area since July. The implications of this are interesting to note, primarily that with rebel control of a power center, the deadlocked nature of the Aleppo battle between government and rebel forces could begin to swing in favor of the rebels. This creates a launching point for attacks as well as providing a critical infrastructure point that is unlikely to be hastily destroyed by the government; a potential bargaining chip for rebels to use in any future peace talks. However, the push-pull nature of the conflict so far leaves much up in the air. Even controlling such resources does not protect the fighters or civilians from government weapons, including potential use of chemical agents which could be used to keep the dam intact while weakening the rebel forces holding it.
The fact is, however, that Western media capturing such stories and publicizing them as opposed to government accounts shows better than any national recognition that the international community in general is behind the rebel forces. Recently, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that he supported providing weapons to the Syrian rebels, becoming the first major member of the Obama administration to explicitly state such views. Such new successes only reinforce popular opinion that now is the time to begin outright support for the rebel groups. Whether right or wrong tactically, the court of public opinion will begin to look unfavorably in this case upon a government capable of acting to support an anti-despotic movement, which fails to do so.