The Flipping Moment!

Indeed, the Assads of Syria are currently being wooed by one and all, American Senators, European officials, and Arab leaders, but soon, I’d wager, everybody will be wowed by how little the Assads actually have to offer and by how bent they are on overplaying their hand, just as they have done on so many occasions over the last few years.

The Assads don’t have it in themselves to “flip” really. Flipping requires a certain family consensus that in light of existing family dynamics is very hard to reach. The interests of different family members still diverge along personality lines, individual ambitions and business interests. A suitable new arrangement or accommodation has not been reached yet, and will not likely be reached anytime soon, if ever.

Meanwhile, the current consensus on the necessity and usefulness of the alliance with Iran and Hezbollah was reached by default – the alliance has been a hallmark of Syrian foreign policy for decades now. Different family members simply lapsed on established positions and policies and stuck to their guns. The fact that events seemed to have justified this choice of theirs will argue in their individual minds that sticking to these policies is the best thing to do at this stage. So, they will do nothing but grandstand and will continue to do nothing but grandstand as the flipping moment fades away over the horizon.

This is why President Bashar told his Italian interviewer recently that, although Syria can do a lot to help the US in Iraq, considering that the Assads have such “excellent relations” with so many of the actors involved in the Iraqi scene, the US should also “talk to Iran.”

Meanwhile, those who think that they can talk some sense into the Assads should learn from the experience of Senator Bill Nelson, who was vilified in official Syrian press for claiming after the end of his visit to Syria that he had had a sharp exchange of views over Lebanon with the Syrian President, an assertion that has nothing to do with the rules of “politics, diplomacy and morality,” according to the Syrian daily, Tishreen, that went on to list Nelson among those “two-faced” US officials who pay visits to Syria for purposes related to partisan politics in the US. Well, perhaps they got that last point right. Baathists are not all and always as dumb as we think. So, unless one is willing to grovel at the feet of the mighty Assads of the Middle Eastern jungle, perhaps there is no point in talking to them at all.

Indeed, the Assads will overplay their hand. We can always count on them doing just that when things seem to be going their way, even with Iranian coaching. It’s a habit. It’s well-nigh genetic.

6 thoughts on “The Flipping Moment!

  1. Ammar-I am likely one of the least of the Assad fans on this channel. However, what really can be done, given the revolution is not coming tomorrow?Can the world just ignore these guys or should talks begin, but with strong pressues for reform, which could then be rewarded once or rather IF results are seen?

  2. I understand the logic beyond wanting to talks to the Assads, all I am saying is that it’s not going to go anywhere: the Assads won’t flip, for reasons that I have explained on so occasions before: starting from their internal difference as a ruling family, their minoritarian background, their corruption, their ineptness, their growing dependence on Iran and Hezbollah, etc. So, what can be done, you might ask? The only thing that can be done, I guess, when you are dealing with a cancerous cell (or a hemorrhoidal growth): isolate then remove. The World should do the isolation, the opposition should take care of the removal. No, this will not be immediate or easy, and the Assads will continue to try to muscle their way out of isolation, as they are doing at this stage. It’s only natural, after all, it’s their very survival, personal both in the dynastic and the physical personal sense, that is at stake here. But allowing the Assads to have their way, treating them as a legitimate presence in our midst, will make many situations in the region fester, and I have argued why before. Anyway, this is the argument of so many of us in the opposition, made on the basis of direct assessment of the situation. But different states will have to choose the position most suitable to their particular set of priorities and interests, and on the basis of their own particular experiences of the Assads. That much is clear. One good thing that the Assads have had going for them for a while, as one US official once told me at the time, was that, no matter what they did, they remained too small a nuisance in the overall scheme of things to warrant any serious response by this administration. But, ever since the HISH Alliance was formed, and ever since they began threatening to topple down the Siniora government and the prospects of a manufactured civil war in Lebanon began to loom, and ever since this partisan game began to heat up again, that official began signing a much different tune. While the Democrats are busy playing the usual partisan politics in the region, I sense that the pendulum is swinging against the Assads in this administration, contrary to what many people might believe.

  3. Ammar-Yes you have explained it, but sometimes I am as thick as elephant hemmoriods…and Alex always gets mad at me when I say I think the Assads are unsalvagable reprobate.

  4. Elephants’ Hemorrhoids, now there’s a scary thought. I actually did not mean you specifically when I said I explained this before, it was just a general reminder for those just now getting familiar with the blog. I do seem to be attracting a new audience, and I really need to make some of my often repeated stands on issues more accessible. I have to add a few more links to the site I guess, when I have the time.

  5. It is hard to see the point in talking to them. We know already what they want – complete control in Lebanon and a free hand to assassinate whoever they please. What is there to discuss? And could anyone believe a word they uttered anyway?

  6. Ammar- “I actually did not mean you specifically when I said I explained this before, it was just a general”Yes…I know…but even I need reminding because I am one of those folks that forever believes…”hey, maybe this time around”.I have never learned my lesson and it has cost me dearly many times.

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