Save for “Beirut Spring”, few noticed the not so veiled hints Bachar made that he wanted to come back to
What is remarkable is not that the Alawite dictator, representing less than 10% of Syria’s population, has the chutzpah to give us lessons in democracy, by claiming that "What's missing [in Lebanon] is a state in which all Lebanese consider themselves represented".
One can only be amazed that he still proposes himself as a mediator, claiming that “the only solution," Assad added, "is if all interested parties have confidence in
This is indeed code for; “Let us control
He should be running for cover; the Saudis already warned him by planting the story of a Kanaan tape in Okaz, their government mouthpiece. To discerning Syrian observers, his defiance is puzzling. Maybe, since he is counting on “Iran [coming to his] defence by playing hardball in the oil-rich provinces of the kingdom where there is a sizable Shiite population”, he chooses defiance:
Oddly enough, this splendidly Byzantine episode has implications for the
It could be that Assad’s margin of manoeuvre is now strictly restricted; his alliance with
He has already been politely warned that
No doubt the Iranians have infiltrated
The Revolutionary Guard is keen to broaden its involvement in the
In the dance with Hezb and
In the piece I cite above, Ze’ev Shiff also hinted that Russia’s involvement was not so benign.
It is indeed worthy of note that the Russian engineers going to
Those units are backed up by the Vostok and Zapad Special Forces battalions, from the 42nd Mechanized Division of the U/I Army Corps. Unless I there are 2 eponymous units ("Vostok; восточно” means East, and "Zapad; западно”, means West), Those battalions were apparently involved in mopping up operations, “zachistka”, in which human rights violations may have occurred. Oddly, Vostok battalion commander Suliman Yamadayev, was a separatist brigadier general during the 1994-1996 war in
War makes strange bedfellows; this is worth following up and verifying.
In the presence of such peculiar "Russians", Schiff’s piece could also be another Byzantine message. But the cold war is far behind us, if the Russians are looking for anything, it could be a better deal in the new world order. It is possible that those units were singled out for easy duty, in recognition of their services to the motherland; their other posting in the region, in Syria, is viewed by officers on assignment as a rather cushy job.
Neither Carrot nor Stick may work;
The main parameters have not changed, and I therefore remain convinced that
Most likey, Bashar is only hoping to buy more time; by waiting Bush out, he may be hoping for one more chance for a bite at the apple.
All this manoeuvring may be aimed at standing still. But nature not only abhors a vacuum, it also strives for change and evolution.And Bashar may also be grossly underestimating the United Nations' resolve, and overestimating Aoun's enmity to Hariri...
And the Americans in All this?
They are unlikely to much; this looks like a European game for now. God Help us.
On the long run, a lame duck
American policy in the