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Assad Digs His Hole Deeper

Posted on March 30 2011 4:00 pm
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Bashar Assad is starting to seem an awful lot like Hosni Mubarak. He has sacked his government, an unmistakable sign of fear, and is promising vague, undefined reforms that will do nothing to satisfy the public. His speech to Syria, where he was expected to announce significant reforms and concessions including the lifting of the state of emergency, said a whole lot of nothing and will only enrage his population. Whenever Mubarak announced a “reform,” it fell far short of what his people demanded and only escalated the crisis. This is what will happen in Syria.

He claimed the uprising is a “big plot from outside,” a questioning of the integrity and intelligence of his opponents that they won’t look kindly upon. He did say that “We cannot say that everyone who went out is a conspirator. Let us be clear about that,” but that won’t suffice.

He said that “Deraa is in the heart of every Syrian” but made no apology for the use of force and won’t even admit that his security forces were involved (he maintains that “armed gangs” who stole government uniforms are responsible). Predictably, he said Deraa is a front line in the fight against Israel. This overused tactic will backfire, as it tells the Syrian people that Assad still doesn’t “get it.”

And here’s proof that it failed: Shortly after the speech, hundreds of protesters chanted “freedom” in Latakia and were fired upon by the army that has been sent there to stabilize the situation.

The biggest concerns about a post-Assad Syria is the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood and what the Allawite minority will do, which the regime comes from. The general estimate of the size of the Allawites is 10 to 13 percent of the population. The Washington Post puts it significantly lower at just 6 percent. Can a regime that represents only 6 to 13 percent of the population come back from the edge? I don’t think so.


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