Across the Bay

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Who's Your Client?

Bashar Asad continues to solidify his status as Iran's client. I've made this argument before:

This is something I said in my article on Syrian-Saudi relations after Hariri, that Bashar has already made his strategic choice with Iran. What we're seeing in terms of attempts by some Arab states at buying him off away from Iran are truly misguided. Bashar made that choice clear the day after he murdered Hariri. He is not up for grabs, as, say, Qatar, or some parties in Saudi Arabia, may think.
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Bashar, I think, may have figured this out [the irrelevance of the Arab order esp. should Iran get the bomb], and he believes it benefits him more to be an Iranian client/proxy. It certainly fits with his preference for brinkmanship, and is quite clear from his hardline ideological rhetoric, which essentially parrots Ahmadinejad's.

Asad seized upon Hashemi Rafsanjani's visit to Damascus (Al-Hayat original here) to do precisely what I laid out above: solidify his role as client and parrot Ahmadinejad's rhetoric:

President Bashar Asad declared that Iran joining the nuclear club has relieved the hearts of Syrians, and considered that the pressure exerted by the great powers against his country on the Lebanese file was a psychological war but that it would not push Syria to surrender. Syria will continue the march towards its goals.
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According to sources, Asad considered that the peoples of the region possess an deep-rooted civilization, and that occupiers such as Israel and America will one day leave this region, and then only the region's indigenous peoples will remain.

As for the Palestinian and Iraqi files, sources quoted Asad as saying that the victory of Hamas in the legislative elections has angered enemies but made friends rejoice. (Emphasis added.)

He had done the same act in that pathetic interview with Charlie Rose in March (in which Landis, playing the role of Asad PR manager, thought he did "fairly well"!), when he let out all the anti-Semitic goods!

It's quite amusing to see Asad behave vis à vis Tehran like his pitbulls in Lebanon behave vis à vis him!

So again, I repeat, Asad's role now is as Iran's client/proxy, and he understands there is no turning back. As far as the Arab states are concerned, they're trying to square the circle: frightened by the trouble Asad and Iran can do in their Shiite populations (Remember HA's Naim Qasem al-Jazeera interview in November, where he made a thinly veiled threat to KSA, referring to it by name) on the one hand, and by the US ME agenda on the other, they figured they may be able to hold off both and maintain the status quo, and decided that they would try to draw Bashar away from Iran. Incidents like the one I highlighted should disspell any such silly thoughts.

I think Mark Steyn nailed it in a recent article:

The degeneration of Baby Assad’s supposedly “secular” Baathist tyranny into full-blown client status and the replacement of Arafat’s depraved “secular” kleptocrat terrorists by Hamas’s even more depraved Islamist terrorists can also be seen as symptoms of Iranification.

He gets it. But, more importantly, thinking that Bashar could be "snatched" and "brought back to the fold" is the real delusion.

Update: Let's not leave out Syria's FM Walid Moallem: "The double-standard (policy) practiced against Iran and Syria is regretfully the reason for the confusion in the international arena," Moallem told reporters after meeting with former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani. ... Moallem said the U.S. Pressures are because of the two countries' "stands and policies that serve their peoples' interests and do not serve hegemony and occupation."