Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Petulant Lot & their Not So Petty Challenge!

Syrian officials did not show any sign of real remorse for the failure of their security apparatuses to protect the Danish Embassy from vandals. On the contrary, they were defiant: it is the Danes who should apologize for even criticizing the arson of their embassy. For by doing so, they failed to appreciate the real efforts of the security people who took quite a beating for trying to protect the embassy of the infidels.

Well, that twist of logic should not be so surprising really. Baath officials have never acknowledged mistakes or shown any signs of remorse for anything before (not even for the loss of the Golan Heights), and they are not about to do so now. So there.

But no, we should not fail to see the emerging bigger picture here. We should not fail to take under consideration’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiance of the international community, nor Muqtada Sadr’s pledge to fight for Syria and Iran, nor Khalid Mishaal’s assertion that Hamas will never acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. The Axis of Evil, minus N. Korea, is making a move here and is throwing the glove in the face of the international community.

No, this is not a simple petty defiance, but a calculated move based on the assumption that the international community, for all its current bluster, has no choice but to yield. After all, this Petulant Lot may not be wrong in assuming that it holds, if not hordes, all keys to regional stability.

So, what will the international community to do? Fuck that. What will the US, France, Great Britain and Germany to do? How will they respond to this challenge? Will they plan a new military venture? If so, do they have what it takes to get the Russians at least on their side?

I doubt it. But unless they can come up with something to break down this alliance, the bad guys, no matter how petulant they happen to be, seem poised to win a very major and decisive round. This is the problem with brinkmanship diplomacy, it does give fools the chance to be winners.

The only thing that I can advice at this stage to beak this alliance is to focus on Syria, which is clearly the weakest link here.

But, and this is quite important, any move against the Syrian regime should come only as part of a clear strategy for dealing with the real threat here, namely: Iran. If such a strategy is not agreed and soon, whatever move is made, be it unilateral or multilateral, and whether it involves Russia or not (the Chinese are a lost cause here) will likely strengthen Iran’s hand on the long run (and, by default, China as well).

Petulant brinkmanship can only be defeated through the judicious application of power. The Petulant Lot needs to be reminded of its fragility and its real size soon. For the more confused the international community is, the more momentum is gained by this Lot, and the more likely that it would push forward with its foolish strategy.

Things should be managed in such a way that, for one, Ahmadinejad is made to take the blame, so as to allow for some internal mechanism to remove him or at least curb his powers.

Second, Muqtada Sadr could be neutralized by entangling him in some internal squabble with other Shia Iraqi leaders.

Third, Khalid Mishaal’s role could be neutralized if Hamas is brought on board, which could indeed happen if only pressures on it were decreased for the time being, and it was left to administer its newly-gained and very troubled and troubling realm in relative peace and quiet.

This leaves Syria and Hezbollah.

But then, and with regard to Syria, the ransacking of the Danish Embassy(ies) affords another opportunity for orchestrating a new pressure campaign against the regime, which could include high profile meetings with opposition figures in Europe and the US. Some kind of a multilateral action or statement, even if outside the purview of the UN, should also be made. It might even be time to renew calls for investigating the President in relation with the ongoing probe into the Hariri assassination. A new corruption scandal or revelation wouldn’t hurt either, especially at a time when there is so much popular anger with regards to rising prices of basic foodstuffs and commodities in the country.

As for Hezbollah, well, only Israel can actually keep it pinned down and anxious for a while. Next time a rocket is fired across the border, the Israeli response should be a bit less subdued, albeit it should be limited to Hezbollah areas only.

These are only tactical moves of course meant to help contain the situation for the time being. The endgame is not in sight yet. For the endgame requires more intensive consultations between the Permanent Five, or even the G8 members, to enable the adoption of an actual new vision for the region, and so that a clear implementation strategy of this vision is agreed.

Indeed, those who want to be involved in the region need to set clear goals and guidelines for their involvement. For one cannot effectively manage anything, be it chaos or order, without having a clear vision and strategy in mind. How about a region like ours then?

Such moves would have seemed quite unlikely a mere few days ago, but now, with the nuclear stand-off with Iran rearing its ugly head again, and due to the climate of anger and anticipation created by the new Rushdiesque, currently sweeping across the world, perhaps the time for that has finally come.