Betting on the Assads

Can the Assads still deliver any goods in Lebanon? Can they help reign in Hezbollah? Can they really afford to turn against it, to betray it, and Iran, at this stage seeing that they played a very active role in all but canonizing Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasarllah, and Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Will there be no consequences to suffer on their behalf should they switch off the nationalist rhetoric and begin sounding a more US-friendly tone having taken such an active part in whipping up anti-US sentiments in their country and across the region in the first place? Can they afford to join the ranks of those Arab regimes, deemed cowardly and traitorous by the Arab Street, especially the Syrian Street, at a time when their sole claim to legitimacy in the country seems to rest on the adhering to certain “national constants” that will make settling for anything less than the Perfect Deal akin to suicide? Continue reading

How Secure Is the Assads Regime, Really?

To many observers of Syrian affairs, especially in the aftermath of the vaguely-worded report by Brammertz and in view of the growing alliance with Iran,the Assads regime must seem more secure than it has been in many months now, international criticism of its policies notwithstanding. Whether it is the Assads strategy that is working here or whether it is their luck that is holding, it doesn’t really matter, the end result is the same, the Assads seem practically untouchable. Continue reading

A Casual Exchange with a Young and Inquisitive Mind!

Over the last few days, with a young man from the good old country.

Can you elaborate on the recent decision by the Bush Administration to allocate 5 million USD to fund the activities of the Syrian opposition?

In general, the sum involved is too miniscule really to finance any serious effort at destabilizing the Syrian regime, but it could help finance some small-scale meetings, travels, and the production of some necessary literature to explain the opposition’s point of view. Continue reading

The Petulant Lot & their Not So Petty Challenge!

Syrian officials did not show any sign of real remorse for the failure of their security apparatuses to protect the Danish Embassy from vandals. On the contrary, they were defiant: it is the Danes who should apologize for even criticizing the arson of their embassy. For by doing so, they failed to appreciate the real efforts of the security people who took quite a beating for trying to protect the embassy of the infidels. Continue reading

The Return of France!

First Syria and now Iran, French President Jacques Chirac is acting pretty tough in what seems like a French return to the international policy-making scene. The lessons that have been learned from the US-led invasion of Iraq seem to be counterintuitive somehow. Rather than championing the cause of non-interventionism and real politick, Chirac’s future policies towards the region promise to be far more interventionist than they have ever been.  Continue reading