Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Hamas card

The ripples of Hamas’s recent election shocker has sent a shockwave to the Israeli’s and West but has brought a very welcome breeze to Hamas’s biggest alley outside the Palestinian territories….Syria. With the various pressures that Syria has been under lately, the annulment of one of these pressures comes as a welcome relief to Damascus. The support of Palestinian “terror” groups will become redundant once Hamas creates the next Palestinian government. Because that act will bring Hamas from legitimate obscurity to the very center of validity, whether Washington or Tel Aviv like it or not. And in that case, Damascus’s hosting of “Press Offices” of Hamas will easily be argued as an office of the Palestinian government. Needless to say this will also flow over to the support of Islamic Jihad and others.

But in a sense Hamas’s victory can be a double edge sword for various Arab governments. While Syria will benefit from its long standing support for non-Fateh factions, the Islamists everywhere (including Syria) will try to view this victory as stride toward their ultimate goal. As Josh mentioned on a previous post “Like Mubarak, Asad will be smirking at US discomfiture as Washington sees its desire for democracy fulfilled. But Asad better not smirk too long, for the Hamas win also underscores what will happen to him should real elections be allowed in Syria.”

But in the shortterm at least Assad will be smirking. Because Damascus’s stress levels are beyond dangerous at the moment and any development to release some of this stress, even if it’s for a short while, will be bring more good than bad.

Another question that comes to mind is will Hamas become the next Hizballah for Syria in Palestine? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that Hamas is an ally and has the same vision and philosophy as the Hizb when it comes to dealing with Israel. But Syria does not have the influence or access to Hamas like it has with Hizballah. But if Hamas passes its biggest test yet, and proves its legitimacy and competence in national and much much more importantly INTERNATIONAL politics then Syria will definitely gain a strong hand and in some ways replace it with the one it lost in Lebanon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Do I hear an echo?

Helloo, lloo, loo, ooo. Anybody there?

Beloved reader(s),

I know it’s been a while and from what I see in the comment section nobody missed me or gives two shits about it :). I apologize to the one and only person who will be reading this (myself) for not writing but I was busy for the past few months with my mom’s visit, starting a new job, buying a new apartment and moving to Amsterdam, so I am sorry Tarek (OK I forgive you). But most importantly I just haven’t been bothered. Too many of my fellow bloggers have been doing a better job and I lacked the will to write something that can resemble the quality (or lack of) that I have seen online. But I hope things are gonna change from now on. My fat ass has started going to the gym and if I can pull that off (3 times already) then why can’t I do this???

So here it goes

Syria is still in deep shit with no light at the end of the tunnel. My predication is that it will continue like this for the next year and nothing overly dramatic is gonna happen. Instead the strategy of the west will be for Syria to bleed, not necessarily to death, and continue to weaken until a better (worse) alternative can come up. I will repeat what I have said earlier on Syriacomment in which Josh was kind enough to post.

“The one and only option that I see as a way out for the leadership is the option they are likely to take if hell should freeze over, and that is to open up...exponentially!!! By allowing real freedom of speech, press, and seriously pave the road to a true multi-party system.

Syria is steam cooker ready to explode and the government shouldn't just loosen the steam valve but to take the whole lid off. While it's clear that crisis management and pro-activeness is not Damascus's strongest asset, one can only hope that realism is. And at this point of time cutting your losses is the soundest strategy, and losing some of the Ba'ath's influence is a much more pleasant scenario than losing the whole shebang. If they really wanted to (and they DON'T) they can take the lead in the mid-term and chaperon the transition into a political system in which the Ba'ath and Alwaite echelon can still play a pivotal role in Syrian society. They have always excelled in maintaining security in such a hostile region, but they have failed miserably in good governance and that's where other SECULAR and realistic parties can play a role. Opposition parties should not, and don't seem to, kid themselves in thinking that Syria's external weakness will translate into a fatal internal hemorrhage, so dialogue must commence even if they prefer a different leadership.”

I would also add: the opposition has always said that there is no hope of you changing your ways so…PROVE THEM WRONG (hopeful thinking I know)

So what about Lebanon? Well that’s not looking good either, Syrians and Lebanese have very serious and understandable concerns on why they should continue to despise each other. The Syrians need to learn (and they WON’T) that Syrian presence, especially in the last 5 years, was no longer perceived as a positive or even neutral issue. I will disregard the long standing opposition/support for the Syrian influence because in reality both were a minority (considerable but a minority nonetheless) and the bulk have shifted from a apathy to firmly critical only in the last few years. But I would like the Syrians to see it this way, would we have allowed the Iraqi army to be present on our soil for 15 years after the civil war has ended? No I didn’t think so. If we hadn’t been so greedy we could have moved to the Beka’a and camped there for a few extra years. Sometimes you have to give up a little to gain more.

But the Lebanese also need to respect the Syrians even though they are down on their knees (for the moment). They also need to understand that the public, not just the leadership, are holding a grudge. And even if The Monkey’s (AKA Junblat) wettest dream comes true and the regime is changed, the people will never forget and possibly never forgive. So invest in the future of both countries and learn how to compromise, as much as it might hurt. Because, as much as some of you might venomously disagree, the Syrian presence brought the GOOD as well as the BAD. And like it or not Syria will remain Lebanon's closest neighbor.

I believe that the Lebanese need to be the better man so to say, and help the understandably paranoid Damascus with its worries. Especially when it comes to the very feasible possibility that Lebanon will become the breading ground for regime-change parties. Why shouldn't Syria be that better man? well they are getting a beaten and you cant think reasonably when you are being attacked. As for the people who are all for the possibility of regime change via a "revolution" I say you are an idiot and if you know what’s better for your countrymen you’d keep you mouth shut. Some might say it must get worse before it gets better but I will answer by saying “Iraq X 2”. You can call me an apologist or paranoid but we all know it’s a serious possibility. Anyways that’s enough for now, I will come back to correct the many mistakes laterzzz

But on a bright note I will say :

“A little girl is being dragged into the woods in the middle of the night by a dirty old paedophile.'I'm scared.' The girl cries. The man replies 'You’re Scared? You're not the one that has to walk back alone”