Wednesday, March 07, 2007

No Way, José!

It appears the “deal” on ending the crisis may not go through. Officially, it failed because the opposition was holding fast to its “blocking minority”, while the ruling majority insisted on the 19+10+1… whatever

In reality, any deal will fail because Syria refuses to go on board. Rationally, one would think that this action is self-defeating since it only deepens Syria’s isolation; better take the tribunal with Saudi guarantees that the regime will not be touched. However, that would be disregarding the real reasoning behind Syria’s rationale.

Grand Ideals

To the outside observer, the Iranians and Saudis may be involved in a grand struggle for domination over the Persian Gulf, and the Syrians involved in preserving a regime threatened by a growing list of enemies.

The reality, however, may be that the Syrian regime only appears to be in never-never land, but understands better than its enemies that the “Arab Bismarckian Era” came to an end. They have seen the writing on the wall, with the Saudis assuming leadership of the Arab world, and increasing their assertiveness. The Assad clan is now focusing on basic survival issues; not mere regime survival, but the physical survival of the ruling clan.

In this sense, extending Lahoud’s term was not a mistake as much as a clever gamble to see how far the Assad clan can keep from the spoils of its conquests.

Pity the few brave Syrians who understand this.

Petty crimes

Sure, the snubbing of Syria may only serve to remind it of its role as a junior partner to Iran’s march to glory, but that does not matter at this stage of the game. If Iran was indeed on board with the Saudis to quiet things down, then Hezb will simply "Siegt Heil" and back off...

But Syria can still play spoil sport thanks to its influence over a few nasties such as the PSNS, the Baath, Sleiman Junior, and last but not least, Aoun’s decreasing popularity and ever more limited mental faculties...

That much is indireclty confirmed by Al-Siyassa (H/T Fubar);

A source close to the Syrian Presidential Palace revealed that President Assad took the initiative to call his counterpart, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, upon [the latter’s] return form Ryad this past Sunday, in order to be appraised of the results of the Saudi-Iranian discussions. [The source has confirmed] that Assad was in a [rather foul mood] after his phone conversation, leading his close collaborators to attempt to calm his anger and to convince him not to [cut-off relations] with the Iranians.

The source further confirmed to Al-Siyassa that Assad’s anger was such that he was hurling curses and insults on the Iranians, clearly demonstrating that he had heard words from Ahmadinejad that he did not expected to hear, especially concerning the Lebanese dossier and the issue of the [Hairiri Tribunal].

The source further confirmed that President Assad’s collaborators managed to convince him not to escalate matters with Teheran under the current situation, but rather to investigate the means still available [to Syria] to scuttle the Saudi-Iranian understanding to settle the Lebanese crisis and pass the International Tribunal, especially that either Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, or Ali Larijani, Secretary-General of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, would soon visit Damascus over the coming few days to inform the President Assad as to Tehran’s final decision regarding its [planned course of action in the region].

Size does not matter in the Syria-Iran partnership, where the leader may not be the bigger partner. It is likely that the Assad clan may be using the Iranians as a useful lightning rod to divert much unwanted American attention, and advance their own agenda. The Mullahs, for all their oil money, are no supermen...

Deal, or No Deal?

More crucially, the Iranians are no Levantines…, and may well end up being played like fools by their Syrian allies.

In the meantime, Lebanon is sitting on a mine that can go off at any “disturbance”. And if/when that “cold civil war” of ours, where nothing is really settled, suddenly heats up, then it would only serve to ensure the Assad’s “exit strategy”.

It is either Beirut or Lattaquieh; Damascus is only a means to that end.

A few good men (H/T Fubar; Follow-up, March 8th, 2007)

Our modern version of the 30-year war got more “interesting” with the disappearance of the Pasdaran general Ali Reza Asgari. There has been much underhanded cloak and dagger fun between Iran and the United States lately.

The first assumption is that the US had something to do with it; he had sold his house and moved his family out of Iran before fading away in Turkey on his return from Syria. He may have been one of the few “Mr. Clean” increasingly fed up with the corrupt Iranian Mullarchy, and would then have decided to defect.

A second possibility is that the Americans decided to retaliate against the Iranians for their support of insurgents in Iraq. The General has been “identified as the officer in charge of Iranian undercover operations in central Iraq”… The disappearance could then be linked to “the detention of five Iranians after the raid on their government's liaison office in Irbil, Iraq in January”.

Then again, a third possibility remains that the Bazaris and Mullahs who rule Iran have decided to eliminate a bothersome “true Believer”…

The most plausible is the first possibility; he defected, since he cashed in the house and since his family disappeared as well. There are now reports attributed to “Senior U.S. officials” that Asgari “left his country voluntarily and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran’s ties to the organization”.

A fourth dancer invited herself (Follow-up, March 8th, 2007)

With this in mind, the Jaw-Jaw in Lebanon has reached a new low, with the proposal to have the Saudis name the 11th minister, a Quisling by another master…

Coming from Siniora, one would have expected better. Not only does it go against the very claim of independence, but if the Iranian general has really defected, this exposes Syria and Hezb. So why make a deal with a losing March 8th? They have lost all Lebanese support, and find themselves exposed with their sponsors running scared.

Then again, we have to remind ourselves of the true nature of March 14th; the lame protecting us from the insane. They have an unwelcome propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Recall the elections?


fubar said...

What? No comment on the Al-Siyassah phone call article? ROFLMAO! Pure brillance.

amir in tel aviv said...

The Al-Siyassah is so brilliant, that as we say in Hebrew, 'if it didn't exist, someone should invented it'. Pity they don't have an English edition; sure it could have been a hit.

ghassan karam said...

If Al Seyassah is to be taken seriously then they must have the best connected staff in the world. They seem to have more informants than the CIA, KGB and Mossad put together. Fortunately for Jeha, the validity of his analysis does not depend on the terrible record of the stories reported by this rag. The Assad clan have no choice but to circle the wagons, they are engaged in a losing battle for survival. The Syrian Baath cannot deliver on the Golan promises and thus the attempt to play the rejectionistresistance card has come around full circle to haunt them. Few people in the Arab world and may be noe in the outside world take the official Syrian bravado position seriously when the regime itself is constantly angling for the US to talk to them and begging the Israelis to negotiate the status of the Golan. Bashars gamble of creating an alliance with Tehran is an indication of despair. He has no choice but to accept whatever Tehran dictates since he has no one else to talk to. Make no mistake about it, the Syrians are not even a junior partner. Syria does not have much to offer any of the regional camps in the middle east besides a stagnant Leninist economy that is on a downward spiral with a military that is badly trained and poorly motivated and equipped.
The Syrian Baath has been weakened both regionally and domestically to the point where its survival is at best questionable.They have managed to allianate all the regional and international players inspite of the fact that they are not in a position to pull any levers in the long run. My only hope is that when the end comes, and it will, that the Syrian people will apply restraint and avoid vengence and bloodshed.

Jeha said...


I agree with you partially,

I agree that Al Siyassa is a rag with more rumours and innuendos than real news, but I loved the piece; I think it makes a good illustration for my point.And it is fun to browse, like a low-level equivalent of "Le Canard Enchainé"... And this particular piece may well be (kinda) true, or at least in character, describing a man who gave us the "Zoom-in/Zoom-out" speech, insulted the Lebanese PM, and even confused Arab leaders with "castrati"...

While I agree with that the Baath is finished, and I am not shedding any tears on the demise of a deal that would have us keep our "Quislings to appease Adolf", my main contention is that this was never about Syria or the Baath. It is about a bunch of thugs grouped around the Assad clan who are now fighting to "maximize" their gains, rather to keep power within Syria. They remind me of the old militia thugs with their willingness to inflict maximum damage with no consideration for logic, or even their own long-term interest, and I fear they have far more leverage than we give them credit for, in that they may be willing to sacrifice an entire country to make a few bucks more.

With this in mind, I fear that, in addition to Lebanon, Syria may not be able to "avoid vengence and bloodshed" this time. Much like Saddam, the Assad clan has sown the seeds for the destruction of "Greater Syria"; "Les dictatures militaires sont comme le supplice du pal: elles commencent bien, mais elles finissent mal".

fubar said...


If you are going to use the copyrighted "a few good men" then the least you can do is link to a decent article.

Roman Kalik said...

Jeha, I completely agree with your analasis of Assad. His reasoning, and that of the other powerful members of the Baath seems to be to seize the day, run the country to the bone, just for another day of power, of money and of luxury.

It's like Wall-Street sharks, only with a country. And my guess is that many of them have escape plans ready, along with Swiss bank accounts.