The Media Line Staff
Damascus, Syria (The Media Line)
Diplomatic momentum is building on the Bashar Al-Assad regime as it ratchets up its four-month military crackdown, but the Syrian president shows no signs of being in the mood to listen, analysts say.
"Whether he is in a mood to listen or not doesn't matter. Everyone else is in a mood for a post-Asad Syria and are all positioning themselves for this eventuality," Prof. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political scientist at UAE University, told The Media Line.
Three Gulf states countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Damascus, including Bahrain, Kuwait and most significantly Saudi Arabia. In a major test for Turkey, Anakra has dispatched its foreign minister to Damascus on a mission to stop the violence.
Notwithstanding the vicious crackdown on Syrians demanding reform that has killed over 2,000 people, neighboring states are playing out their regional rivalries on Syrian soil for greater influence on the day after.
The Alawites and Baath party have dominated Syrian politics for four decades. Al-Assad is really battling for his life and the current Syrian way of life. If he goes, the Alawite minority control goes with him and quite possibly the army would collapse.
Economically, Syria is going down the tubes. So far its oil fields haven't been targeted by the rebels and are continuing to pump out nearly 400,000 barrels a day. While it is low-grade and its supply is not expected to last much longer, it still accounts for almost 30% of Syrian state revenue and its importance is growing considering how the major tourism industry has collapsed.
Syria is dependent on European refineries to process its heavy crude oil. Anti-Asad activists are pushing for Europe to impose sanctions on Syrian oil. For now, Russia is against sanctions, not just out of a sense of obligation to its once close ally, but because it wouldn't want to see Syria fall into American or Western influence.
A decade ago, Syria and Turkey were close to war. Today, Syria is one of Turkey's greatest trading partners. Gallia Lindenstrauss, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, believes that the Turks probably hold the most sway with Al-Assad's regime at the moment.
"If he is in a mood, he will listen to the Turks," Lindenstrauss told The Media Line. "He saw what happened in Egypt and to the other dictators. He knows if he goes through with reforms he will be endangering his life."
On the other hand, some of Al-Assad's options include lowering the violence to a level that would make it more difficult for the international community to impose sanctions or intervene militarily," said Lindenstrauss.
The Turks are also concerned with refugees flooding its borders. They don't want a repeat of 1991 when Iraqi refugees massed on the border and an international no-fly zone was created to protect them from Saddam Hussein's forces. Ultimately, this created a de-facto Kurdish state.
The geopolitical earth tremor taking place in Syria could also be seen as part of the greater conflict between the Arab world and Iran, manifested in a Sunni-Shia clash.
"There is no doubt about it that Iran is going to be one of the biggest losers," Abdulla of UAE University said. "If you look at who lost and gained from this Arab Spring, Iran has come out with a net loss so far. If Asad goes that will be their biggest loss. The Iranians are doing everything possible to bolster him."
In many ways, Iran holds the key for Al-Assad with its strong support. Iran has been reportedly aiding the Asad regime with know-how and advice. Tehran is also reportedly considering a $5 billion aid package to Syria as a bail out if sanctions are imposed.
Dramatic moves out of Damascus have already occurred. Al-Assad fired his minister of defense on Monday and by Tuesday the man, Gen. Ali Habib, was reported to have been found dead at his home. Habib, according to Asharq al-Awsat, had been one of Assad's greatest opponents to the bloody military crackdown in Hama.
Speculation has also risen that because Habib was from Asad's Alawite sect, the split between them may have been part of an unsuccessful internal power struggle get rid of Asad.
"It is not the outside world that is going bring Asad down but the people on the ground there," Abdulla said. "You have watch for two things: when Damascus will begin to rise -- They are turning against him, but are waiting it out -- and the trouble within the military. We have seen signs of this already when he sacked his defense minister. Things are starting to happen."
Lindenstrauss said she was doubtful whether the situation in Syria would drag Turkey and Iran into direct confrontation, but that the lack of stability there was bound to create friction.
With diplomatic pressure from the Arab world and the West mounting, eyes are on Iran to see how it reacts. Meanwhile, Syrian forces persist with its offensive against demonstrators in several towns on the border with Turkey.
"Dictators don't give up easy. They are fighting back and using brutal force at their disposal to prevent revolts. Tunisia was the exception. All the others are acting in a way one should expect toward revolutions. They are bloody and prolonged and not easy to overthrow, especially ones like Asad and (Libyan leader Mu'amar) Al-Qaddafi who understand the use of force," Abdulla said.
- Global Economic Downturn: A Crisis of Political Economy
- Crisis of Confidence: Debt Debate Erodes US Global Standing
- United States Debt Downgrade Won't Have Much Short-Term Effect on Foreign Policy
- The Empathy Deficit
- Stiglitz Upbeat About China and Latin America
- China Trade Surplus Rises
- China Sees Inflation Rate Hit 6.5%
- Latin America Not Immune to U.S. Debt Deal
- Is Japan Now a Good Bet?
- Is Germany the New Safe Haven?
- Islam and Arab Political Change
- Iran Reshaping Persian Gulf Politics
- Diplomatic Pressure on Al-Assad Gaining Momentum
- Arab Nations Join Call For Al-Assad To Stop Civilian Attacks
- Bahrain and Kuwait recall Syria envoys
- Clinton Says Syrian Government has Lost Legitimacy
- September Looms Large in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Israel's Growing Wealth Gap Fuels Economic Anger
- Israel and Cyprus Forging Ahead on Gas Bonanza
- Major Israeli Defense Merger Dropped
- Israel Approves 1,600 Settler Homes in East Jerusalem
- Mini UAV Chopper For Urban Warfare Revealed
- Roman-era Sword Uncovered in Ancient Ditch in Jerusalem
- Hamas: Palestinian Authority is Clamping Down On Our Preachers
- Warnings of 'Somalization' And All Out Civil War in Yemen
- Missing Out on Vital Medicines Because of Economic Crisis
- Jordanians Lash Out Against Planned Nuclear Reactor
- Jordanian Mosque Named After Jesus
- Troop Withdrawal Rests on Decision From Iraq
- Somali Forces and African Union Peacekeepers Gradually Expand Control In Mogadishu
- Somali President: Combat Operations Against Al-Shabaab Will Continue
- Al-Shabab Pullout: The Beginning Of The End in Somalia?
- Africa: Tough Choices As Food Prices Continue To Rise
- Nigeria: Jail Threat for Polio Vaccination Refuseniks
- Congo: Implement Anti-Discrimination Law, Urge Indigenous Peoples
- Congo: High-Tech Measures To Curb Illegal Fishing In Congo
- Raw Sewage Kills in Madagascar
- Tanzania: Violence Against Children Rampant
- Maternal Deaths Quadruple In South Africa
- United States and Pakistan Navigate New Tensions in Fraught Relationship
- Pakistan's Forgotten 2005 Quake Victims Still Need Help
- China Announces Sea Trial Of Its First Aircraft Carrier
- Indonesia's Global Significance
- Seoul Blasts Pyongyang For Fabricating Shelling Incident
- North Korea Planned Assassination of South Korean Defense Minister
- Calls For End To Torture and Extrajudicial Killings By Bangladeshi Police
- Muslim Rebels Seek Substate In Philippines
- DOJ Places Former Philippine President On Immigration Watchlist
- Britain Sticks With Austerity Plan
- Cameron Announces Crackdown On Facemasks
- Norway: The Sky Is Weeping
- Norway Attacks a Tragic Result of Failed Immigration Policies
- Norway: Blaming the Muslims
- Norway: Breivik's Real Enemy: Himself
- Brazil Joins Race for Globalized Students
- OAS Is a Basket Case - but a Needed One
- African Horn Migrants Heading South 'Pushed Backwards'
- Drought and HIV: A Dangerous Combination
- Drought Has Kenyans Running on Empty
- Security Risks Overshadow Aid Delivery Efforts in Kenya
- Drought Exacerbates Conflict in Turkana
- Kenyan Farmers Reap Rewards of Switching to Maize
- Uganda War Crimes Trial May Affect LRA Defections
- Egypt Taking on the Hepatitis C Virus
- Egypt - You Tweet You Want a Revolution
- Cleric Signals Egyptian Fears About Iran
- No NATO Ceasefire in Libya Despite Ramadan
- Ship Sinks Off Southern Philippine Province - 178 Passengers Saved
- Over 600 War Children Still Missing
- Saudis Assume Role as Banker of Counter-Revolution
- Israel Orders Illegal Jewish Outpost to be Vacated
- Bedouin Face Opportunity Gulf in Negev
- Netanyahu May Be Reversing Economic Course
- Israel's Arabs Debate National Service
- Israel Readies for Rocket Barrage
- Arabs Take Credit for 'Israeli Spring'
- Port Crisis Brings Iraq - Kuwait Relations to New Low
- Over 130 Dead in Latest Syrian Protest Crackdown
- As Protests Grow, Syrian Regime Gets Religion
- Iraq Dusts Off F-16 Order
- Foreign Investors Flock to Iraq
- Arab Spring on Your Ramadan TV Screen
- Greece's 2nd bailout: Debt Restructuring with No Debt Reduction?
- Eurozone Crisis: Greek Tragedy
- Turkey Grows Nervous Over Economy
- Istanbul's Greek Schools Struggle Amid Funding Shortage
- Turkey: Military Resignation Strategy Misfires
- Brazil and IBSA: Blueprint for Future Cooperation?
- Afghanistan: Rethinking the Way Forward
- And, in the Background ... Our Numbers Still Grow
- War Fatigue and the Un-Critical Critics of War
- Obama's Expanded Militarism
- Obama's Bush-League World
- China Eclipsing United States in Global Reach
- Debt Fight Reinforces China's Negative Views of America
- Military-Industrial Journalism
- Slapstick and Denial Highlight News International's London Testimony
- Rupert Murdoch's Legacy -- Greater Press Controls
- Decline of the English Scandal
- Another Blow to Journalism's Image
- On Journalistic Credibility
- Is Italy on the Brink of Debacle?
- European Debt Crisis: Could Italy Be Next?
- Italy: Barbarians -- in Suits -- at the Gates
- Looking at Greece in the Argentinean Mirror
- The Rise of Turkey in the Balkans
- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia Agree to Help Each Other on Road to EU
- Turkey's Kurds Announce Plan For Democratic Autonomy
- A Cyprus Solution By The End of The Year?
- Some Albanians Consider Changing Nationality for Profit
- Democracy in Mexico: The Past, Present, and Future
- Making Room for Brazil's Growing Clout
- Brazil's Deforestation Quagmire
- Obama MIA in Latin America
- The Other South Asia
- The 2011 Mumbai Serial Blasts and India's 'Resilience'
- Japan's Decline as a Robotics Superpower
- Will Fukushima Survivors Be Doubly Victimized?
- Why Palestinians Have Been Sitting Out the Arab Spring
- Qadhafi's Days in Libya Are Numbered
- How to Secure Peace in South Sudan
- Handling Big Contradictions
- Tax Havens: Shady Deals
- Environment: Worlds of Water
- Environment: Rebuilding Sandcastles
- Economic Cost in Yemen
- Egypt and Palestine: Internecine Alliance
- In New Egypt Old Conspiracies Live On
- Show Stolen From Egyptian Superstar in Anti-Mubarak Drive
- Russia Has Syrian Blood on Its Hands
- Syrian Revolution Gets Islamic Seal of Approval
- Muslim Brotherhood Challenges Jordan's King
- A Dumb and Dumber War in Libya
- Libya and the Problem with The Hague
- Are Palestinians Getting Cold Feet on Independence?
- Tent Camp Rises in Tel Aviv To Protest Home Costs
- Open Air Market at Heart of Jerusalem's Downtown Revival
- Rwanda: A New Rwanda?
- Somalia's Pirates: Ransom Cash 'Easy Come Easy Go'
- Al-Shabaab Offer Somalis Kinder and Gentler Face
- Mogadishu Hospitals Running Out of Medicine
- Kenya Feels the Strain as Somali Refugee Numbers Soar
- Ethiopia: Floods Pose New Threat to Food Security
- Understanding Nigeria's Boko Haram Radicals
- Turkey: Constitutional Overhaul?
- European Action Service: Europe Eats Its Young
- Spain: Playing at Revolution
- Spain May Change Tone on Latin America
- Britain's Tabloid Scandal Sounds Familiar
- Britain's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Quits Over News Corp Phone Hacking Scandal
- News of the World Editor Brooks Arrested
- Headed to Europe This Summer? It's Going to Be a Riot
- Europe This Summer: Go, But Carefully
- South Korea's School Tablets -- a Test for All
- Bombs Before Bread in North Korea
- 'Unprecedented' Drug Trafficking Heightens Risk To Youth
- Never-Say-Die Attitude Propels Japan to Victory Over USA In Women's FIFA World Cup Finals
- Three Venezuelan Scenarios -- None of Them Good
- Mexican President Congratulates Troops for Huge Marijuana Discovery
- On Humanitarianism: Is Helping Others Charity or Duty or Both?
- Financial Rebalancing Act: Stop Worrying About Global Flow of Capital
- Globalization and Unemployment
- The Divided States of Europe
- The Secrets of Germany's Economic Success
- Russia's Evolving Leadership
- Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy?
- The Crisis in Clean Energy
- Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring
- Egypt's Military and Upcoming Elections
- Taliban Hotel Attack: Low Death Toll, High Psychological Value
- Bin Laden's Re-branding of al-Qaida
- Perfidious Pakistan
- Effects of the American Drone Program in Pakistan
- NATO After Libya: The Atlantic Alliance in Austere Times
- South Africa's Land Reform Crisis
- Defending Democracy in Cote d'Ivoire
Available at Amazon.com:
Copyright 2011, AHN - All Rights Reserved