Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Assad's fall "inevitable"
I never thought the unrest in Syria would reach the same levels of that which has gone before in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. I was wrong. I thought that because Bashar Al Assad is younger, sharper and more in touch with world trends that he would prevent (through a combination of conciliation and oppression) the emergence of a revolutionary situation. Again, I was wrong. This week Obama called for Assad to step down stating that his fall was inevitable. Due to the sectarian element in Syria I thought the US would be reluctant to encourage further unrest in Damascus as was the case in Bahrain. However I believe geopolitical opportunities have overridden any such concerns. Assad's Allawite sect, which is similar but not identical to the Shia Islam that we are familiar with from Iran and Iraq, represent the ruling minority in Syria and are seen by many Arabs as being the gateway with which the sinister Persian regime in Tehran can meddle in Arab affairs. For this reason I believe there is a growing international consensus that Assad must throw in the towel. From a western point of view the fall of Assad and the Allawite sect could be highly rewarding as it would mean a major loss of influence and power for Hezbollah in Lebanon who would be isolated and unable to rely on the Iranians for training and supplies. So much so that if Assad were to go the way of Gadaffi and Mubarak, it would make the Iranian threat look significantly less serious. I give him until the summer.