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>> Asharq Al-Awsat


AL-ASSAD'S LAST FRIEND

Asharq Al-Awsat - March 5, 2012

by Hussein Shobokshi

The Syrian problem, or the al-Assad regime's confrontation with a revolution that has broken out against it, has taken a crucial juncture over the past few days. Russia’s unremitting defense of the al-Assad regime, supporting and protecting the ruling system with all manner of means, methods, ordnance and intelligence, together with Iran's issuance of threats and intimidation via its sectarian religious tongue as well as its political and economic wings, not to mention its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, are all breathing life into the Assad regime. Recently and in public, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak got on board to pressure the Obama administration into abandoning its campaign against the Syrian regime and its President Bashar al-Assad. If the regime is overthrown, Israel's security and adjacent borders would be exposed to probable danger and new threats in the post-Assad era.

The West has been extensively warned and cautioned, via a professional media lobby, that the scarecrow of "al-Qaeda" would forge ahead into Syrian territory if the al-Assad regime collapsed. In other words, the "alternative" to the current regime would be an extremist and dangerous sectarian one. It is worth mentioning that this same argument was strongly and constantly promoted by some during the Libyan revolution against the Gaddafi regime. It was rumored that "al-Qaeda" had entered Libyan territory and was leading the entire uprising against the regime. At the time of these farcical and comical statements, the international community scorned such nonsense and decided that rescuing the Libyan people was more important and righteous than paying heed to any misleading statements, no matter how serious they may seem. Hence, NATO's explicit military intervention occurred in full until Libya was completely ridden of the Gaddafi regime.

Today, on the surface, it seems that the "international community," owing to enormous pressure from Israel, has begun to relent and back off from the bold statements it had previously been reiterating night and day. Meanwhile, Russia's position in defense of the Syrian regime has been escalating in a manner akin to hysteria. The Russians have been busy promoting the idea that the collapse of the al-Assad regime could be tantamount to the disintegration of a barrier neutralizing any direct confrontation between the Russia and America, and could consequently lead to the new, growing cold war transforming into an open one. This is something that could never be allowed to happen, and hence the Russian regime has formed a conviction about the importance of preserving Syria and al-Assad.

Russia believes that the overthrow of the al-Assad regime is a joint European-US conspiracy, seeking to impose Western hegemony over the entire region. At the same time, the Russians are still jubilant at their political and military victory in Iraq, achieved through the façade of Iran. They have ultimately managed to drive out the Americans, and now have all of Iraq for themselves. The Russians believe that any victory secured by the US against the al-Assad regime in Syria would be equivalent to returning to Iraq through the window after walking out - at a considerable loss - through the door.

Of course, during all this period, covert Israeli movements have been trying to convince the West of the gravity of sacrificing a regime that has guaranteed safe borders with Israel over the past four decades, and whose borders with Israel are even safer than Israel's borders with countries that are signatories to its peace accords, such as Egypt and Jordan. Hence, maintaining the al-Assad regime is a strategic goal. Israel has always stressed that it is possible to eliminate all the enemies of the al-Assad regime to further establish and solidify its rule. In its endeavors, Israel has been primarily successful with the Russian intelligence service, which has strong ties with the former through the widely influential Russian Jewish community. Israel has convinced the Russian intelligence of the necessity of taking practical steps to repress the revolution. This issue took on bloodier dimensions following the Russian veto at the UN Security Council. A high-profile Russian visit to Damascus, with a delegation including Russia's Foreign Minister and Chief of Intelligence, followed this move. They met with President Bashar al-Assad and gave him the green light and full support to continue with his killings and suppression unabated.

This leaves the vague or complicit Arab stances that also bear part of the responsibility for the pools of blood running from Syria. Countries like Algeria, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq are still adopting fairly indecisive positions regarding the massacres perpetrated by the oppressive al-Assad regime. This is in addition to Jordan and Morocco’s inconclusive stances on severing diplomatic ties with Damascus. We also have the peculiar stance adopted by Egypt, where some age-old "Nasserite" voices still regard al-Assad's Syria as a natural extension to Egypt's strategic national security, thereby demanding its preservation by all means. This attitude was plainly voiced by veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed in a recent article in "Al-Ahram" newspaper.

The Syrian revolution is being betrayed on many levels, and there are suspicious moves in more than one direction. As events unfold (at least where motives are concerned) we discover that multiple parties would have their interests served by the regime staying in power. This simply means that Syria's popular revolution is a definitive struggle between good and evil, or the people versus the tyrant. The outcome of this struggle has already been settled in the mind of Almighty God. Al-Assad may have sought the assistance of a friend, i.e. Israel, but he still doesn't understand that the game is already over.





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