In 2003 and beyond, if you were like me glued to the Internet, the TV (past days of glory before it became an entertainment juggernaut), and sometimes the radio, you would have noticed the beginning of a new axis of terror rising in the Levant backed by Syria and Iran.
Powerful IED’s, developed by angry bearded men who could not come to terms with their inferiority in the new civilized order of Saddamless countries, made their debut in Iraq. Suicide bombers and cars became the Assad canvas upon which he showcased his talent as a terrorist. Recruiting extremist Sunnis, many of them past or present members of al-Qaeda, to attack innocent Shia Iraqis was a stroke of genius for someone who claims he descended from the Shia sect. As if he really cared about anyone but himself.
In brief, Assad and Ahmadinejad terrorized everyone, including Lebanese politicians (The Lebanese people are the abused foster children of Assad), innocent Iraqi bystanders, the Kurds of Iraq, etc. But the cardinal mistake was to terrorize American GI’s. Unlike the eighties when cruise missiles, drones, and stealth bombers did not exist yet, the US casualties in Iraq is the subject of deep anger amongst high officers of the Pentagon whose careers span several Presidents and whose patience is shorter than an IED fuse. They can punish Assad with very little effort and costs but their commander-in-chief is a stubborn communal Kumbaya choreographer and so they wait and cheer on the sidelines the courage of our people.
After the Bush administration refused to fight back the Syrian and Iranian onslaught, Assad and Ahmadinejad met in Damascus in July of 2007 to celebrate the knowledge that both countries have killed at will and survived to boast about it. Iraq shall remain a grainy event in American history not because the US liberated its people from a ruthless dictator but because the US refused to engage with its enemies.
Several other events dealing with Damascus regaining its footing in Lebanon and the likely impotency of the STL (Hariri’s Tribunal) led to another victory lap in February of 2010 in which Ahmadinejad told the US that Iran and the Arab nations will usher in a new Middle East “without Zionists and without colonialists.” President Obama, meanwhile, kept insisting on his engagement with Assad.
Then the Syrian Revolution began on March 15, 2011. Syrians feared an American neglect, Ã la Iran of June 2009, but felt that continuity and Assad‘s brutality will force the hands of the Obama administration to act. It still has not.
Meanwhile, my sense is that many at the Pentagon disagree with this policy (No real information, just a hunch). The brass feels this is an opportunity to punish Assad for the 4,486 American lives that perished in Iraq. There is certainly that feeling I see in the writings and Blogs of ex-US Officials who handled the Syria file at the White House.
The Syrian people, effectively, are the ones making Iran sweat bullets and Assad sweat blood. My people are also the ones taking revenge not only for the senseless killing of our people but also indirectly for killing Americans, Lebanese, Iraqis, Israelis, etc.. I cannot tell you the sense of relief our brave men and women in Syria have projected into the hearts of all those who suffered from Assad terror. I know, for example, that the Hariri and the Tueini families are happy to see Assad with a gun to his head after 42 years of terror this family has exacted upon the Lebanese people.
So, even if the US President refuses to take full advantage of Assad‘s weakness by pushing him over the abyss with a military riskless operation, Assad fate has been sealed. The US backs his demise and in doing so, it is telling the families of those who perished in Iraq that the US never forgets.
Assad cannot possibly survive to rule a ruinous country because its very ruin is ample enough reason for its people to continue fighting. He is resisting the gravity of a spiral downward direction of his making and while he can attempt to muscle his way upward for a bit, gravity always win at the end.
If he is smart, which is doubtful, he will accept Kofi Annan’s offer of relinquishing power in return for protection (The same one granted to Rifaat the butcher). What happens to him afterwards is our responsibility. I only wish he has time to read about what happened to the Holocaust engineers of the Third Reich when they did not commit suicide.