Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tipping Point for Assad Dictatorship in Egypt?

The Happy Ending that every sane human being wishes for Syria may be near. But as The Economist notes, a happy ending might augur a period of chaos:
....a year or so after their revolutions, both Egypt and Libya remain unstable; and Syria, which borders Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, is an exceptionally complex and pivotal part of the Middle East. Those who wish Syrians well now need to focus not just on how to bring about Mr Assad’s swift fall from power, but also on how to spare the post-Assad Syria from murder and chaos and how to prevent violence from spreading across a combustible region.

Given that the size of the blast that killed the Defense Minister & Assef Shawkat, Bashar's brother-in-law and the "Enforcer" in the top ranks of the Alawite Elite indicates an inside job that must have required more than one or two people to pull off, suspicions are running amok and the cowardly stick-insect Dictator has fled to the Alawite heartland near Latakia. And now that the coward has fled, there may be hell to pay in the capital---including the WMD that Saddam sent to Syria before Operation Cobra II under the ruse of aid to flooded areas of Syria after unseasonal rains in 2002.
For the past few months, diplomacy has focused on a plan, overseen by Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary-general, to negotiate an effective ceasefire under a team of monitors and to set up an interim unity government. But over the past few weeks the Annan plan, along with many thousands of Syrians, has died. The rebels, who can now smell victory, will not agree to a ceasefire. The monitors’ activities have been suspended because of the fighting. The country is ravaged by civil war, so there is no prospect of putting together a unity government. After this week’s bomb the danger is that a desperate Mr Assad will resort to ever more extreme tactics—flattening whole districts in Damascus with heavy artillery, say, or seeking to provoke a regional war, or even murdering his own people with chemical weapons.

"His own people" doesn't mean much to a member of an Alawite minority consisting of 12% of the Syrian population of around 22 million, a population three times that of when I first visited Syria in 1972. The 74% Sunni are regarded by the Alawite & the 10% Christian minorities as a possible persecutor were they to come to power. The Sunni Al Qaeda are also suspected to have infiltrated the Opposition Forces. The Israelis are nervous about this possibility, but are also going to be relieved if the Alawite allies of Hezbollah and Iran are pried from power in Syria. Indeed, the number of possible configurations of new alignments across the board, including a different relationship with the newly-elected Shi'ite majority in Iraq just for starters, are mind-boggling if the Sunnis come to run the government in Syria. Relations with Sunni Turkey will improve, and with Sunni Jordan. Egypt may start persecuting its Copts even more if the Sunnis in Syria begin to persecute Christians.

At the moment, the only support Assad has in the foreign czar-wannabe Putin & his Chi-com UNSC partner:
The threat of international justice—especially warnings about his pariah status if he uses chemical weapons—might just have some force. But only Russia has much influence over him. The desire to protect an old ally, fear of its own restive Muslims and hostility to Western calls for regime change have led Russia to shelter Mr Assad’s regime from diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions. As it seems ever-likelier that Mr Assad will go, so the chances that Russia will abandon him in return for a role in a post-Assad Syria grow.

To be sure, there are still pockets of support in the Western press, as this fawning puff-piece fluffing Bashar's feathers demonstrates, although one notes that the blather was written in the early morning of the day of the blast killing the upper elite military/intelligence figures & had to be hastily redacted three hours later. Reuters is notorious for such happy horseshit. Who knows how much provender that author Hamilton had thrown over the transom by Syria or its Iranian allies to write such gibberish? In the meantime, the commonsensical Economist notes about the best way to get the bloodthirsty tyrant out of the country: the absence of a decisive diplomatic shift in the right direction, Western governments should try to give the military effort against Mr Assad a further push. The swiftest way of doing that would be to give aid—such as money and communications gear—to the main rebel force, the Free Syrian Army. It is already getting arms and cash from Qatar and Saudi Arabia with Turkish co-operation, but it needs more help; for, despite its recent setbacks, Mr Assad’s regime is heavily armed with the best Russian kit. The FSA is no band of angels. Some of its weapons will doubtless fall into the wrong hands, possibly including groups of jihadists. Flooding Syria with arms will make the country harder to govern once Mr Assad has gone. But backing the FSA is probably the quickest way to prise Mr Assad from power.

The article ends by noting all that might go wrong after Assad is ripped from power, but in the meantime, no successor can possibly be quite as bloodthirsty as the demon with five intelligence agencies and a notorious series of torture chambers. My many visits [more than half-dozen] to Syria as an FSO & afterwards have filled me with much information. In only one department have I found the Syrians the best in the Middle East---their wonderful food, which is only surpassed by the Turks.

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