Thursday, November 17, 2011
Our intelligence has been insulted again on Juan Cole's blog, where he claims Israel supports Assad in the current disturbances and says Assad can hang on if Israel provides covert aid. There is no word for this position other than dishonest. Cole knows better and is lying to his readers.
The United States is clearly working to force Assad out. The Obama administration publicly said the opposition should not put down its arms. Obama is not doing this against Israel's wishes.
Where Syria is headed from worst to best case from Israel/US point of view:
1) Assad hangs on and the opposition loses steam and dwindles
2) As in Libya, an opposition council which has made commitments to Western parties takes power by force, holds elections after some delay and maybe, depending on what constitution is written, eventually leaves Syrian foreign policy as independent of US pressure as it is today, but quite plausibly does not.
3) Syria is mired in a deep civil war and internal destruction that makes it unable to influence the rest of the region for an extended period of time, even if hostile forces nominally win. This is what we've seen in Iraq.
If the Muslim Brotherhood completely took over Syria, the worst they could to do Israel is support Hamas and Hezbollah, which is exactly what Assad is doing. Syria is not in a position to wage a conventional war with Israel regardless of its leadership.
Today's Syria, or 2010 Syria is the worst case scenario for Israel. If you disagree, then what specific policy could Syria pursue that would be worse for Israel?
The best case for both the welfare of the people of Syria and for the principle of democracy would be for violence on all sides, particularly against the state to be subdued for long enough for elections to be organized in which anyone, including Assad can campaign and run.
Then after seeing election results it will be clear whether or not Assad has more or less popular support than the very passionate protesters in small cities who have outside support. It is very possible, almost likely, that he does.
If Assad is less popular than some alternative, then a graceful exit should be determined.
US policy, with Cole's support, seems designed to ensure scenario 3 above happens. That is a great outcome for Israel and a horrible outcome for the people of Syria.
Scenario 1 then elections is the only one that could possibly lead to a graceful transition of power even if Assad does not have more popular support than some Syrian alternative. Cole and Obama are doing everything in their power to foreclose this possibility.
Posted by Arnold Evans at 10:41 AM