Monday, June 6, 2011

SYRIA - Assad is he caught in his own trap?

While arrests are increasing, supporters of President Bashar Assad think having subdued the fledgling protest movement. That may be true, but nothing is settled yet. One thing is sure: the repression will not solve the difficulties of Mr. Assad. His regime was unable to undertake reforms, and to silence the Syrian society by force will not solve the country's problems.

It might even make them insoluble. From the beginning of the uprising, foreign governments have urged Mr. Assad to make reforms. But in the Syrian context, reforms lead straight to the collapse of Assad. Unblocking the political system and allow free elections, given the freedom of the press, establish the rule of law, limit the rule of the Baath party and reduce the powers of too many security services would be political suicide.

Mr. Assad has never had the intention to take such measures and not now that he will do, so he chose to break the rebellion. In some Western capitals, including Washington, it is hoped that a weakened Syrian regime will be more sensitive to international pressure. The reasoning is as follows: to redeem his conduct and to regain international legitimacy, Mr.

Assad will show their credentials, resume negotiations with Israel break off relations with Iran, be discreet about the Palestinian issue and cut food to Lebanese Hezbollah. In fact, Mr. Assad will probably do the opposite. Why, after ordering his army and his security forces to shoot hundreds of civilians, it would further undermine its credibility by negotiating with Israel? And why would he distance himself from Iran and Hezbollah, the risk of isolating itself further into the region without being able to play the card of the resistance, while the Iranians could help him? And why, if he triumphs in his country, would he follow a script written by the U.S.

and Europe? No one can deny however that the scope of Mr. Assad is very limited. It can not improve the situation in Syria and, therefore, violence is his only recourse to hope to silence discontent. But violence feeds the discontent. Something was broken in Syria. The scheme may be predicted victory, but if it is against his own people, this is a Pyrrhic victory.

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