Friday, July 27, 2007

Alterman: "How To Manage Assad"

Read CSIS's John Alterman's WaPo piece here.
"The Bush administration thinks Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is bluffing. Its policy of cutting off most contacts with the Syrian government and tightening the screws of sanctions is meant to signal that the United States has superior strength and a superior will. At some point, the reasoning goes, the Syrians will realize that resistance is futile, and they will give up the charade of virulent opposition to U.S. policy in the Middle East. But a visit to Damascus early this month that included an hour-long discussion with Assad left me unconvinced that his regime can be scared straight..."
The Syrian government may overestimate its centrality to Middle East politics and its diplomatic weight, but it knows how to stay in power. The rest of the Middle East has been swept up by discussions of social and political change, economic development and foreign direct investment;
Syria's leaders are preoccupied with security and stability. Rather than opening up, they are hunkering down. Six weeks after Assad won reelection with 97.6 percent of the vote, flattering portraits with adoring messages still festooned most billboards and large flat spaces in Damascus. This authoritarian government is not searching for a new playbook..."

No comments: