Thursday, March 03, 2005

Time to take down Assad...

March 3, 2005: Syrian President Bashar Assad is afraid he will end up like Saddam Hussein. Both of these men have led their national Baath Parties. Saddam lost control, and Assad is losing it. Assad's father was Saddam's contemporary. The elder Assad's untimely death put Bashar in command, but not in control, of Syria. His dad's cronies control most of the bureaucracy, armed forces and security organizations. There is no agreement among all these chiefs about what to do to stay in power. Thus we have the bizarre contrast of Syrian police turning over Saddam's half-brother and 30 of his henchmen, while Syrian agents facilitate the assassination of a prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician, and a suicide bombing inside Israel. All within two weeks. No senior Syrians will admit that no one is completely in control in Syria. It is feared that there may be a coup, as some of the senior generals and security officials push Bashar Assad aside and take over. Bashar is seen by his father's old timers as too inexperienced. But the problem is that Syria is simply in a very bad situation. Like Iraq, Syria adopted the Baath Party to run the country decades ago. Like Iraq, the socialist dictatorship of the Baath Party led to corruption and economic decline. This has made enemies of Syria's neighbors, and the Syrian people. The Syrian Baath Party has run out of credit, and credibility. The bill is now due, and no one wants to pay. March 2, 2005: The new Palestinian government is saying all the right things ("fight corruption, end terrorism, negotiate with Israel"), but only time will tell if they can deliver. The corruption in the Palestinian government has been around a long time, and is more the norm than the exception in the Middle East. Palestinian terrorist organizations, noting that most Palestinians are fed up with futile terrorist attacks, and the poverty it has brought them (because of Israel counter-terrorism measures), have agreed to go ahead with a cease fire. But these same terrorist outfits continue to preach their ultimate goal of the destruction of Israel. The Palestinian government may be negotiating a long term peace deal, but the Palestinian terrorists are only offering a short respite from the fighting. This is a way for the Palestinians to put off a major Israeli demand; that the Palestinian government outlaw terrorist organizations, and shut these outfits down. At the moment, that would cause civil war in the Palestinian territories. Foreign nations are offering the Palestinians billions of dollars in financial incentives (bribes?) to make peace. But it may not be enough. It's been over half a century, and the Palestinians have consistently found ways to not make a peace deal. March 1, 2005: In Lebanon, days of anti-Syrian demonstrations caused the pro-Syrian government to resign. The composition of the new government makes a lot of Lebanese nervous. The Syrians originally came to Lebanon to keep the peace after a civil war. The factions remain in Lebanon, and many Lebanese fear that the civil war could return. Moreover, the years of Syrian domination have left the country with a culture of corruption and cronyism that is bad even by Middle Eastern standards. Syrian influence, especially in business deals and organized crime, is everywhere. This influence won't disappear with a change of government. The Syrians are feeling the pressure, and say they will get their 14,000 troops out within a few months

No comments: