Across the Bay

Friday, February 16, 2007

How Assad Negotiates

Three pieces on the latest terrorist attacks in Lebanon, all of which agree that the bus bombings near Bikfaya represent an escalation by the Syrian regime to show the lengths it will go to in trying to kill the international tribunal and thereby reimpose its hegemony over Lebanon.

Michael Young surveys how Assad's intransigence "may be leading toward an unintended consequence: passage of the tribunal under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter."

Lee Smith's piece has two themes: one on how the nature of the Alawite family regime (to which my upcoming post will be dedicated) is integral to understanding the regime's behavior (as I've written many times, the nature of the regime does matter). The second is more specifically about the latest terrorist attack near Bikfaya, and what the intention behind it may have been. I am quoted in the piece, as is my colleague Elie Fawaz.

Smith's concluding graph is worth quoting in full:

So, will the wise men who counsel we sit down and talk with Damascus--the Brzezinskis, the Powells, the Obamas, the Bakers, and Djerejians--will they have the decency at last to recognize what their high-minded posturing can no longer obscure? This is how Syria negotiates, with its knife on the table and dripping with blood.

Finally, there's my own analysis in a piece in The Daily Star today. I examine the political context in which the attacks occurred, namely Amr Moussa's failed trip to Damascus (add it to the list of failed trips by credulous envoys who got absolutely nothing), the Saudi-Iranian talks, the upcoming Arab summit, and Amin Gemayel's visit to the US.

Like Smith, I see Assad's behavior for what it is -- classic mob behavior -- and I'll be back shortly with a post on how the nature of this regime matters.