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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Syrian collapse immanent?

Instapundit links to this Strategy Page article:

The elder Assad's untimely death put Bashar in command, but not in control, of Syria. His dad's cronies control most of the bureaucracy, armed forces and security organizations. There is no agreement among all these chiefs about what to do to stay in power. Thus we have the bizarre contrast of Syrian police turning over Saddam's half-brother and 30 of his henchmen, while Syrian agents facilitate the assassination of a prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician, and a suicide bombing inside Israel. All within two weeks. No senior Syrians will admit that no one is completely in control in Syria. It is feared that there may be a coup, as some of the senior generals and security officials push Bashar Assad aside and take over. Bashar is seen by his father's old timers as too inexperienced. But the problem is that Syria is simply in a very bad situation. Like Iraq, Syria adopted the Baath Party to run the country decades ago. Like Iraq, the socialist dictatorship of the Baath Party led to corruption and economic decline. This has made enemies of Syria's neighbors, and the Syrian people. The Syrian Baath Party has run out of credit, and credibility. The bill is now due, and no one wants to pay.
It is amazing, a little over a month ago I was very worried about Syria. It was obvious that Syria was supporting the insurgents in Iraq and, before the elections, far from clear that we could succeed in Iraq against the Syrian backed opposition. It was also unclear what we could do about it with a good portion of our ground forces already committed in Iraq (although I had considered that it might take less forces to deal with Iraq and Syria than Iraq alone with a hostile Syria). Now, just over a month later, it seems inevitable that Syria will be forced to leave Lebanon and increasingly likely that the Baathists in Syria will be swept from power. There are of course multiple reasons for this change. First and foremost is probably the fact that Bashar Assad has never had very good control over Syria, although until pressure began to mount that fact could be obscured. The invasion of Iraq was also key for two reasons. It brought fear to those in power in Syria, further fracturing an already unstable power structure, and, ironically enough, it removed a threat. While both Iraq and Syria were Baathist dictatorships, there was certainly no love lost between the two regimes who have historically viewed each other as competitors at best and enemies at worst. The removal of this threat has taken away a powerful reason for those in power in Syria to remain united. In addition, Sharon's movement toward Israeli pullout of the West Bank has also removed a threat from Syria's borders. Of course the most immediate, and I believe most signifigant factors in weakening Syria are the successful protests in the Ukraine and especially the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. These events have worked to alter the global consciousness toward the importance of democracy and the unique legitimacy of democratic rule. Syria has not yet collapsed of course, and it may not, although I would take an even money bet that it will. Hopefully this will be a peaceful transformation with minimal violence put there is no gaurantee of that either. Lastly, we cannot be sure what power structure will take the place of the Syrian Baathists, although I would be surprised if anything other than a democracy arises there unless there is a period of extended violence first. There is every reason to be optomistic however, and, given where things were just a short time ago it is hard not to be overjoyed.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cubicle said...

I partly credit the TV's, internet, and other forms of communication to passing along developments in real time.

It connects people in a way that can not really be explained.

3/03/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Certainly that plays a part in a general sense, but I don't think it helps answer the question of why this is happening now (as opposed to 5 years ago or 5 years in the future)

3/04/2005 05:46:00 AM  

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