Across the Bay

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Dictator has no Clothes

The purported Israeli overflight in Syria, whether it actually targeted a missile base or factory, or an arms shipment to Hezbollah, uncovered Bashar's regime as it really is.

This, as Syria expert Eyal Zisser put it, is a complete and total embarrassment for Bashar. It makes all the bluster (the "half-men" speech, "we will liberate the Golan through all possible means," etc.) sound even emptier, and makes all the current threats ("wait for it, it will come in the right place at the right time," "the response will be tough," etc.) sound all the more pathetic (it even drew a chuckle from As'ad AbuKhalil of all people!).

Consider for instance, this pitiful comment, full of petrified bluster, by Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari:

"They were fleeing and in order to speed up the planes, they dropped the munitions," he told The Associated Press from New York.
Al-Jaafari said he had no further details on the incursion, but denied news reports Israeli troops had been inside Syria.

"This is absolutely not true," saying the reports were an attempt to show that Israel could land troops wherever it wants.

Syria appeared as it really is. This is its actual regional weight. It appeared impotent, without even a diplomatic response. Its complete isolation (both European and Arab) was on full display (not even the Arab League came to its aid), and its diplomats sounded and looked even more pathetic than they usually do.

Here's what Zisser said:

“In the short term, Syria looks like it’s getting back to normal. That’s what they are broadcasting. But the significance of getting back to normal is to erase all of the media and propaganda achievements that Syria got out of the Lebanon war; it’s to go back to a situation in which Syria stands by impotently and weak next to Israel,” said Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Near East and North African Studies, told Israel Radio.

“It’s as if we discovered Bashar’s bluff. He’s been threatening for a year. And suddenly something happens, and he’s helpless. That is significant. I don’t know how Bashar will digest this, and that is what the concern is.”

Zisser is right. It is because they have no weight, and because Bashar is a young hothead mesmerized by the Nasrallah cult and who has no concept of military engagement and defeat, they can do something dangerously foolish (naturally, it would involve other people's lands and lives). But given the Arab and international reaction (see here. Scroll down to the update), they had better think twice.