Monday, November 12, 2012

The "New" New Opposition

I'd never seen a more euphoric attitude on Facebook and Twitter since the start of the revolution than I did yesterday evening. Muataz al Khatib, a former imam of the Ummayad mosque, is an articulate and skilled orator. His manner reminds me of that almost lost form of Islam that was the tradition in much of Syria, in a way he reminds me of my late grandfather. But will he have what it takes to overcome the difficulties of a divided and argumentative opposition? I don't know what the next few days will bring, but I've learnt enough over the past eighteen months not to build my hopes up. The road to toppling Assad is going to be long, difficult and very bloody. The fact is many more people will, sadly, lose their lives before the dictator of Damascus finally falls. One thing that struck me was his conciliatory attitude to the Syrian regular army. He referred to its members as just as much victims of the regime as the people they were attacking. It was a good move and could help foster a more encouraging atmosphere for defections. He's also climbing down from denouncing the army, and I suspect this is because much of it will be kept intact for the sake of stability and security.  

Assad's Russia Today Interview

I listened to the interview in full today and the only impression I got was of a man desperate for somebody to listen to his lies. More talk of armed gangs, Western conspiracies, terrorists, the battle between secularism and Islamism, and a stern warning that an attack on Syria will unleash problems from the Atlantic to Afghanistan. There were no jokes, however, and he did not laugh much. There were also no "hidden" messages that he seemed to be passing out to the West, no subtle hints at all which is unusual because the regime loves these things. If he did use them I didn't notice them. He signalled a willingness to "discuss" with countries such as the Gulf, but on the condition that they stop "arming and funding" the armed groups, as he called them. This man isn't planning to go anywhere. Interestingly, the interviewer, Sophie Shevardnadze, hinted that the presidential palace they were in was newly refurbished. I don't know whether she meant anything more than what she said. Assad very clearly replied that she was "most welcome in Damascus" and this was to tell everybody that he was still in the capital. There were rumours that he might be in Lattakia. The conclusion of the interview was clear, he plans to live and die in Syria. I felt as if this was a man who wanted to show that he was still relevant and perhaps galvanize his followers by making an appearance.


They are watching events in Syria closely. The recent incidents at the border seem to me an attempt by somebody to draw Israel into the conflict, but I don't think that's going to happen. It would be remarkably stupid if Tel Aviv decided on another adventure and would play right into the hands of Hezbullah, Iran and Assad. For Assad it would be a godsend as it would fatally undermine the revolution against him. Ultimately I don't think anybody, apart from Assad, wants a war right now.


SL said...

Let's stay focused and upbeat now there's a reason.

Inspiration - Japan 11 months after last year’s devastating tsunami.

Lirun said...

believe me - israel doesnt want war with syria or any other neighbour.