Across the Bay

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bashar's Worst Nightmare

The leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has told the Financial Times that the MB is willing to "work for political transition in Syria with former regime officials who are ready to commit themselves to democratic change."

Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni told FT: "For us, getting rid of the dictatorial regime could come in many ways. During the transition it could happen through people within the regime," adding that this transitional period would have to be followed by democratic elections.

Bayanouni is thinking along with most analysts, following Khaddam's remarks, that perhaps other officials might also break with the regime. "I think Khaddam will encourage others. We hope that whether they are Alawite or Sunni, others should leave. The future of this regime is disastrous," he said.

In his interview on Al-Arabiya, Khaddam winked at the MB, calling them a nationalist force, and that the Syrian government should open up to all political forces in the country, including the opposition and the MB. The MB just winked back. The secular opposition, however, is denying any contact with Khaddam. Although, I just heard on the news that Yassin Hajj Saleh also said that he believes that Khaddam's move is backed by international and regional powers, and even local players. It should also be noted that Riad al-Turk did welcome Khaddam's move, only he expressed his concern over whether Khaddam is actually presenting himself as a presidential alternative to Bashar.

The MB always was Bashar's main concern, which is why he bumped off the Kurdish Sheikh Khaznawi, who was building bridges with the MB. It is also why he lashed out against the Damascus Declaration, which was signed on to by the MB. The official media attacked the opposition as "Sunni."

Anyway, this is quite a significant development, and it remains to be seen how it will play out. One wonders if one of the purposes of the Khaddam story was to take away the "apr├Ęs moi le deluge" card from Bashar. It's likely that now internal pressure will grow alongside the relentless external pressure of the international investigation.

How high's the water, papa? Five feet high and risin'.

Update: Caveman comments further.