Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Syrian Jingoism hits the stratosphere
President Assad kept a low profile and refrained from making public speeches during the month-long battle in Lebanon. As soon as the cease fire came into effect, he declared a “glorious victory for the resistance” and attacked Lebanese parties that wanted to disarm Hizbullah and Arab rulers who had accused it of adventurism. He then went on to replay an old record for the Israelis and Americans: “give-me-back-the-Golan-or-I’ll-sacrifice-any-number-of-Lebanese-and-Palestinian-lives-in fighting-you”. The German Foreign Minister, who wanted to bring Syria in from the cold, in spite of US and EU opposition, cancelled his trip to Damascus upon hearing Assad’s speech.
During the fighting in Lebanon, Assad clearly did not know which way to jump. The price that he could exact from the West for his silence and acquiescence was also not high enough.
No one seems to have forgotten the Hariri investigation and no offers on the Golan have been forthcoming. German promises of technical assistance and grants from the EU to help reform his administration are not, what you might literally call, up his street.
Does he feel frozen out and cheated by the West? Of course he does. What else could explain his jingoistic outburst and hollow defiance? Syria’s foreign policy is now so bankrupt, blatantly mercenary and regime-centric that it has nowhere left to go except Iran, Belarus and North Korea.
Syria is holding herself out as the only “noble Arab country” to resist US and Israeli hegemony over the region, expose their weaknesses and humiliate them on the battlefield through Hizbullah. At the same time, Syria wants Israel to hand back every inch of the Golan Heights (which she won in battle) with the blessing of the United States. Syria wants a land-for-peace deal but Assad complains that neither Israel nor the current US administration is interested in peace. He also attacks the Europeans and Arab rulers for acting as US stooges. Syria has no real answer to its severe isolation except to serve Iran’s nuclear ambitions and political doctrine in the region.
It has not occurred to the regime that they can earn the respect and friendship of the world, as well as a place at the negotiating table, by winning an honest election. They cannot comprehend that their illegitimacy makes them an untrustworthy partner in peace and a false representative of the people of Syria and their values, aspirations and wishes. It has not crossed their minds that the Syrian people can no longer feed on empty slogans. It does not bother them that antagonising so many nations and powers at the same time leaves our country vulnerable to an attack and a crushing defeat. Should such an attack be mounted against Syria, the Assads and their cronies would be the first to slip away. They would not be short of funds, foreign property or foreign passports to ensure a comfortable life for themselves and their offspring away from all the “human garbage” in Syria.