Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Mediocre Tap Dance!

Prelude: Fifty minutes of meaningless jabber paved the way for a five minute announcement that will almost likely require a couple of weeks worth of explanations and clarifications. Syrian trios will be “completely” withdrawn to the Bekaa Valley, in accordance with the Taif, and will then be withdraw to the Syrian-Lebanese borders in accordance with 1559.

Questions: When will any of this take place? This will supposedly be decided sometimes this week. On what side of the borders will the Syrian troops be stationed? Unclear. Will this satisfy the Lebanese opposition or the Americans? Unlikely, as the President himself anticipated in his speech. What’s the point of all this then? Buying time. For what? For the internal showdown that is likely to take place in the near future. After all, the President himself promised that the upcoming regional conference of the Baath Party will herald new changes for the country.

Analysis: The scene has been set for an internal showdown. the President seems poised to implement Scenario One of the three scenarios previously highlighted (purge, assassination, coup), that is the purge meant to consolidate his grip on power.

Implications: This is the year of decision for Syria, barring some miraculous recovery by the opposition and devil society dissidents, our fate will be determined by a potentially bloody showdown between the various power centers in the regime. Reform is not the issue here, but promises of reform will be on everybody’s lips. But, barring for the rise of some unforeseen actor on the scene, one of the existing sides is capable of actually delivering on reforms. Still, as a regional player, Syria has been, and for the foreseeable future, completely marginalized. This is indeed the end of an era. It cold also mark the beginning of the end of an unlikely and quite mediocre dynasty.

Anecdote: A brave taxi-driver from Kafar Sousseh, one of Damascus’s poorest suburbs, had anticipated that the President will be declaring his resignation today. He clearly overestimated our leaders’ sense of dignity. Our leaders might indeed be the product of traditional male chauvinism, but this does not mean that they are willing to abide by all the mores of this institution. Male pride has no please among those infected with the hubris of power.

PS. My heartfelt appreciation and thanks go to all those who sent or posted notes of supports, especially you Marc L, wherever you are.