Now that our plight has become the butt of jokes on late night comedy shows in the United States and Europe, and a variety of “light” newspaper editorials, we can rest assured that our misery will not end any time soon, and that our aspirations for freedom will have to be consigned to the farthest of the backburners currently burning. Pardon me if I cannot bring myself to laugh. The pain of it all aside, the joke is simply too old and predictable.
The reason why the Assad regime survived for so many decades, and why in particular it has survived for the last three years, has little to do with how smart its leaders are. Cruelty and Machiavellian tactics are signs of intelligence. Moreover, the Assads simply came to grasp, in time, an obvious fact about their position, namely that they have become in charge of a country where change in leadership and system of governance requires consent from a variety of regional and international actors, and is not a purely domestic affair. They also understood that regional and international rivalry will make consensus in regard to change in Syria well-nigh impossible to achieve, a fact that gave them ample leeway to do what they wanted internally, and to occasionally engage in some regional adventurism of their own.
Read Part One here.
Through their reactive kneejerk policies over the last few years, policies that conform both to their inherent nature and parochial interests, Russia, Iran, the Assad regime, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all other Middle Eastern regimes managed to create a situation in Syria where the United States had no choice but to intervene to midwife a process that will eventually secure the interests of most of these regimes, most of which will survive the current mayhem with little or no change.
The author of this op-ed, Mr. Rich Ghazal, an ordained deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, makes some excellent points about the plight of the Middle East’s Christian communities, that is, until he gets to those two paragraphs that capture the real message that he and the IDC conference organizers wanted to deliver to President Obama and the American people at large: preserve the Assad regime.
The first paragraph: Continue reading
At the time where there is so much talk about extremists and moderates, I thought a couple of definitions might be in order to help us clarify the challenges ahead.