As we gear up for the summit,
More accurately; all
The fact of the matter is that it is an extensive accumulation of the resistance towards dealing with "Lebanon the State", whether from the Lebanese side - currently represented by the Opposition - or by "Syria the State", which is attempting to correct the "historical mistake" of announcing "Greater Lebanon" at the beginning of the past century.
The behaviour of the current regime is made worse by the country’s identity crisis and its rulers’ lack of legitimacy.
In the Beginning Was The Baath…
It had first started as a “minority rule” under the Baath’s “Military Committee”, a joint Alawite-Druze affair. Then it evolved into a Alawite takeover of the country under Assad, after he dispatched other Druze officers such as Salim Hatoum. As Assad’s power rose, his power base shrank as a proportion of the Syrian population.
Having no “internal” pull to attract supporters, Assad-the-father had to resort to an “external” push.
And the game continued until they were allowed (by those same Americans) almost total control of
Like Father, Like Son?
Today, Assad-the-Son is struggling to repeat his father’s feats, and studiously going though the bloody pages of the “Book of Hafez”. He is now supporting a “progressive” opposition in the face of a “regressive” government whom his lackeys characterise as an “Zionist/American” creation, a “cancerous sore”.
But today’s fundamentals are different, and Assad-The-Father’s policies are not adapted to the mew context; the region has changed.
With the cold war over, the
Risk of Contagion
So Assad-the-Son can move his toys around, but he can do little else. Yes, Siniora may be a weak leader, but he’s no Schuschnigg, thanks to all that Western Support. Yes,
So Assad-the-Son can do little or risk exposing himself and pushing more on
For one, the minority ruling group bequeathed by Assad-the-Father has shrunk to “family and friends”. This process recently accelerated during the son’s accession, with the sidelining of the likes of Khaddam and Shehabi, the assassination of Hariri, and the “suicide” of Kanaan and his brother. Underneath this solid facade, the Syrian regime’s power base is shrinking fast and Alawite unity is further eroding; witness the latest string of arrests in Qardaha, the Assad’s hometown.
For another, 21st Century
Iranian cash is helping, for now, but even that well is not bottomless. But this alliance may well be one of the main reasons of the regime’s long term weakness. This weakness is made worse by the results of the
True, in the sectarian context, the minority Alawites had little choice but to align with (Shiite dominated) Iran, to use as leverage against the rest of the (Sunni dominated) Arab world. But the Arabs now fear for their oil, and building alliances to face the Persian threat.
Joumblat’s Sensing the Change
No wonder Joumblat increasingly calls for the regime’s change. Such assertiveness has less to do with Lebanese masses, and he would not dare risk a backlash against
As long as the regime maintains its present course, it will have no option but to retreat from
…At least for now.