Sunday, November 27, 2005

Keeling over, with Some Dignity!

Keeling over is indeed the more accurate way for reading Bashar’s recent decision to cooperate with the UN probe into the Hariri assassination. The attempts by the regime’s henchmen, and some increasingly foolish observers, at trying to give this matter some positive spin are simply ludicrous. Far from being a success for Syrian diplomacy and brinksmanship, the decision reflects the helplessness of the Syrian regime and the increasing desperation of its leaders.

Case in point: the President’s Brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, is actually not off the hook, and his name seems to be included among the List of Five to be interviewed in Vienna. Some reports seem to include now even the name of the President’s brother, Maher, in contrast to the names mentioned as part of the earlier List of Six.

Be that as it may, even if the Gruesome Twosome failed to show up in Vienna, the final report prepared by Mehlis might still implicate them, one way or another, as the crisis nears entry into its second and more critical phase on December 15. All this has been nothing more than a necessary prelude for the real dilemma ahead.

On the other hand, the very condescending attitude of the Saudi King in his recent declarations on this matter makes it very clear that the regime will not even be allowed to save face beyond certain necessary limits. For those who have had previous direct dealings with Bashar & Co. know how easily this lot can fall into that nasty habit of believing their own lies. The “time for Bravado is over,” as the Saudi King said, one way or another the Syrian regime will be made to understand that.

Moreover, this about-face by the Syrian President is a great testimony to the fact that the ruling clique’s position is far from being strong. Should the final report to be issued by Mehlis implicates anyone in the ruling regime, including Maher and Assef, Bashar will be hard pressed to deliver them to the hands of international justice. The country will not be allowed to rot under sanctions for their sake. This regime has no friends, no resources and no unifying center to allow it to survive for long under isolation.

The Saudi monarch’s stance also indicates a readiness to act more forcefully to prevent the development of another vortex of violence and mayhem in the region. But, his declarations make it clear as well that this is Bashar’s final chance to clean up his act and get with the program, the will of the international community cannot be ignored any longer, at least not by regimes as pitiful as the Syrian regime happens to be. As such, Bashar needs to know exactly where he stands in the overall scheme of things, and he needs to know what his actual size is. This lion needs to learn how to meow – not all lions are worthy of being allowed to roar.

For the latest concerning the David Duke stunt in Damascus, check out this report.