Iran will never give up its nuclear program. To them, having nuclear capabilities and a few warheads and missiles on the side is meant tom inoculate them against foreign dabbling. Iranian officials believe that, unlike Saudi Arabia whose breakup will come largely due to mismanagement on part of the ruling establishment, the only way the Iranian establishment they could face serious domestic troubles will come as a result of clandestine activities supported by Western governments. Having nuclear weapons will prevent that possibility, so they think, even as American drones and intelligence operations are busy destabilizing Pakistan, which has long been a nuclear power.
All so-called Abrahamic religions have an embedded element of disdain towards all other faith systems, one that has been clearly and unambiguously articulated in their various holy books as well as by a huge assortment of their favorite scholars and clerics, one that colors popular attitudes and feeds popular stereotypes, even among the self-declared secular segments, and inspires rejection, condescension and downright hate among a select few.
The more we learn about ISIS the more similar it gets to the Assad regime from the belief in its divine right to rule to the way it treats its opponents, including torture, kidnapping, beheading and stoning, and the way its makes money. Terrorists in Syria come in different guises, but their actions betray them all, at least to those of us who are unwilling to be willingly blind. Terror invites terror. You can ignore one set of atrocities, you endorse all.
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.