Monday, April 24, 2006

The Case for Regime Change in Syria (2) & (3)

The Syrian regime holds no cards of its own anymore, in fact, it itself has become a card in the hands of the Iranian mullahs. Indeed the mullahs now hold the Syrian card, the Iraqi card, the Hezbollah card and the Hamas card in addition to the nuclear card, making it impossible for the US and the international community to ignore them. Throw in Iran’s size and demography into the mix, and you have a rather formidable opponent.

Therefore, sooner or later, one way or another, the US will have to negotiate with Iran, almost regardless of who is in charge there and almost regardless of consideration of human rights and democratization (yeah, I can’t believe I am saying that either). Recourse to real politick in its traditional formulation here is amply justified.

Iran may not be China or India, but, taking under consideration its demography, the size of its economy, the sophistication of its political class and the extant of its regional influence, it does fall somewhere on the periphery of that category of countries. That is, it may not be an actual super power, but it is an important enough regional power and cannot be simply treated as some kind of a rogue state, even when some of its leaders do tend to behave like rogues.

The mullahs have grown too corrupt to be as mad as Ahmadinejad makes them appear. Ahmadinejad can crawl all the way to Mecca on his hands and knees and pray at the Ka’abah, with all the sincerity in the world, for the destruction of the US and Israel and for the “return” of the Mahdi for as long a he wants, but all that his fellow mullahs, his comrades in beards, really want at this stage is to keep the worldly possessions that they have so studiously amassed over the years. The corrupt are too worldly to be mad. Ahmadinejad’s statements notwithstanding, the mullahs will negotiate when they see the need for that.

Admittedly though, and at this stage, the mullahs are just too cocky to see this need. After all, everything seems to be going their way, In Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and the UN Security Council. They, therefore, need to be brought down to earth once again in order for the negotiations to take place. This is why their “hot” regional cards need to be burnt.

For the Iranian mullahs have to eventually choose between their own survival and that of their imperial project. They cannot be allowed to keep all of their cards, they cannot be allowed to move from the periphery of that category of states mentioned earlier to its center without paying some kind of price, otherwise, they are bound to grow more ambitious and troublesome or all concerned.

Indeed, the only card that the mullahs could be allowed to keep is the one that seems to ensure and guarantees their survival: the nuclear card. If they want it so bad, they can have it. But the price is Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and Iraq. If the Iranians want to move to the center, they have to be an India, not a China.

So, the Case for Regime Change in Syria (2) is: in order to knock some sense back into the heads of Iran’s mullahs, you need to take Syria’s Assads out of the equation. For, at this stage, they are the hottest card in the mullahs’ hands, without them the mullahs’ links to Hezbollah and Hamas will be sufficiently weakened and the mullahs might be more willing to reconsider their current regional strategy. This could open the doors for negotiations.

But what if the current administration should continue to be uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating with Iranian mullahs, what then?

Well, then, the Case for Regime Change in Syria (3) says that you still need to take Syria’s Assads out of the equation. For the Assads have clearly become the spoilers that the mullahs will use to make trouble for the US, especially in the aftermath of a bombing campaign against the Iranian nuclear sites.

After all is said and done then, the Assads of Syria have clearly transformed themselves into perennial spoilers with regard to US interests in the region, and that is enough reason for them to be singled for extinction.