Friday, March 04, 2005
Assad is going down fast now..
Michael Young seems to think that it is indeed so for Syria: The End Now the Saudis have asked the Syrians to leave Lebanon, and soon. It's the end, whatever Bashar Assad does. All the props sustaining Syrian power in Lebanon have crumbled, except the resort to brute force; and even there you can kill Rafik Hariri and say it wasn't you. You can say that the bungled assassination attempt against Marwan Hamadeh, a Hariri ally, last October wasn't you either. You can even say that you had nothing to do with the deployment of armed thugs in Beirut belonging to an Islamist group created by the Syrian regime to fight the Muslim Brotherhood (a deployment for the purpose of preventing a meeting between U.S. envoy David Satterfield and Lebanon's Sunni mufti). But can you really say that about any possible new victims? It's over. From Damascus there is news of gloom and uncertainty, desperation and anticipation of the worst, even talk of a coup, though no one quite seems to know who would organize it. Michel Kilo, a prominent Syrian opposition figure, has also severely criticized, or rather mocked, the Syrian attempt at trying to salvage something under the "Arab umbrella," judging it as another short-sighted miscalculation. Instead of asking for an Arab way, of two Arab states that are helpless against the US and are under pressure from the US to cooperate, and who surely won't put their necks out for a bumbling Syrian regime, why not ask for a Lebanese way? He reminds the Syrian regime that the opposition has in fact offered it an honorable way out, but the Syrians have reciprocated with nothing but contempt and short-sightedness, as the Arab way won't make the international pressure go away! "It will postpone it till April," wrote Kilo, but then what?! Kilo doesn't say it, but this contempt is characteristic of Bashar, as Michael noted in his WSJ piece (see below), as evident from the disgraceful La Repubblica interview. Josh Landis commented today that the Syrians still won't accept normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, which would be exemplified by respective embassies in Beirut and Damascus. Jumblat recently made a similar remark, that this regime is not interested really in having normal relations with Lebanon. Nevertheless, being a realist, he still reached out to it to have an honorable exit and establish decent relations, not based on hegemony, intimidation, and interference. But as they say in Lebanon, "there's no one there, don't holler." In fact, as Kilo himself said: "they see that if they fix themselves, they will die." As for those news from Damascus, it's perhaps best exemplified by this sad post by Ammar Abdulhamid, which echoes Kilo's frustration: The City’s air is rife with all sorts of untoward rumors, everything is now possible: there is talk of arrests, purges, coup d’états, assassinations, sanctions, invasions, anything and everything, except, of course, freedom. Everything is possible except freedom. Freedom is never mentioned. Freedom never comes to mind. Freedom remains a distant dream. The world is changing around us, but we, Damascenes, Syrians, Sunnis, ‘Alawis, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Circassians, or however we define ourselves these days, including perhaps heretics, can’t feel any hope in that. Nothing has touched us so far. Nothing seems to loom in the air, except for rumors and hearsays, none of which particularly inspired or inspiring. The face of an ugly and malevolent god still stares down upon any possibility of hope within us. A reported wave of arrests has already swept a variety of "low-key" dissidents, that is, those whose arrest is not likely to generate much notice abroad, or even here, no matter how terrible this may sound. But then, everything sounds terrible these days. Despairingly terrible. There is hope all around us, but somehow there always needs to be some pit of despair somewhere meant to serve as a continuous reminder of how things were or could again be. But those whose fate is to live in such a pit have themselves to blame as well. If history teaches anything it’s that such punishment is always earned somehow. We earned it with our long and studious silence.