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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Bashir al-Assad will not leave Syria on his own accord.

Link: New Syria peace plan focuses on ISIS, not Assad.

The reality of the situation obliges us to concur with the latest statement from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) regarding the current crisis in Syria.  All groups involved in the Syrian conflict who are opposed to wanton slaughter and the execution of countless innocent men, women and children, must form a line behind one banner.  The movement known as the Islamic State for Iraq and al-Sham has started developing long tentacles, which are reaching out of the Middle East and into Africa, South America, Asia and Europe. No doubt ISIS has its supporters in the United States as well, given that the freedoms and civil liberties that Americans hold so dear, can also put them at risk.  Does ISIS have dangerous sleeper cells in position in U.S. cities, or are its supporters limited to the odd deranged individual with access to a firearm?  I'm sure the FBI and CIA have opinions on the matter, but it may not make a difference.  If ISIS continues to grow, then its presence in the United States will be only a question of time.  In the past, the UNSC has connected the removal of Bashir al-Assad to the issue of peace in Syria, which gave serious heartburn to both China and Russia.  I guess the UN decided that a united front in defeating ISIS is more important than Assad, and we agree.  What has puzzled many people is why Assad hasn't already collected his family and his ill-gotten loot, and bugged out?  The answer isn't very complicated.

Bashir al-Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, was Prime Minister of Syria from 1970 to 1971, and President from 1971 until his death in June, 2000.  Hafez was the epitome of an Arab strongman, and he built a political support network that did not continence internal dissention.  His tool of construction was the Syrian Arab Ba'ath Party, sister organization to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Ba'ath Party, although the two eventually evolved into completely independent and disconnected movements.  Anyone who wanted to be successful in Iraq needed to be a member of the Ba'ath Party.  Hafez' son and successor, Bashir al-Assad, recognized a good thing, and continued to rely on the party.  Today Damascus is choked with Ba'ath Party members, whose safety in other Syrian cities was jeopardized by the swift advance of ISIS.  The number of Syrian civil servants and functionaries who belong to the Ba'ath Party must be in the thousands, and many of these individuals are retired, and still support their families on their pensions.  Its no secret that both Hafez and Bashir controlled an effective intelligence service, which was quick to act against anything perceived to be a "threat to the state."  Many Syrians, both innocent and guilty, fell victim to the aggressive actions of the Syrian police and intelligence service.  If Bashir were to leave Syria, he wouldn't be able to fit all his remaining loyal subjects into his suitcase, and those that are forced to remain behind will no doubt suffer the vengeance of the wronged and their family members.

But as altruistic as Bashir al-Assad may be, I don't think his reason for staying put has anything to do with the thousands of Ba'ath Party folks left over from the good ol' days.  Assad still controls Damascus, and if he were to leave, the city would probably be occupied by a United Nations peacekeeping force of some kind, at least until the situation in the rest of the country could be sorted out.  I would hope that the UN wouldn't allow ISIS to sweep in uncontested and take control of the capital city.  Now that we think about it, if Assad were to high-tale it out of Syria overnight, does the International Community have a plan of action to keep Damascus and its millions of innocent civilians safe from ISIS?  Another question that we are unable to answer.  But Assad has been hesitant to leave because of his family's connections to all parts of Syrian society.  If a forensic team were allowed to review the financial habits of both Assad regimes, they would likely uncover theft that dwarfs what Mobutu Sese-Seko was able to accumulate in Zaire.  And since the world and its financial markets and banks have become much more closely connected, the International Court in the Hague would undoubtedly move to freeze all the mysterious bank accounts registered to members of the extended Assad family.  I assume that Bashir and his cronies have attempted to cover as much as they can, because sooner or later, he will have to leave.  The freezing of international bank accounts would only be a part of the potentially disastrous results of a forensic audit of the Syrian Treasury, National Bank, and foreign investments.  Assad would be powerless to stop the flow of information implicating his family in every kind of graft possible.  In all seriousness, the Assad family ran Syria as if it were a family enterprise.  Assad's family will have to live somewhere (I can't imagine any staying in Syria if he leaves), and they will be hounded forever by a legacy of greed and gluttony unparalleled in our time.

We believe that Assad continues to look for a solution that will allow him to keep some semblance of authority in Syria, so that his family dirty laundry is aired, and the international bank accounts confiscated.  In the best interests of the Syrian people, some consideration should be given to an arrangement with Assad for the safe evacuation of his family, a retirement to some dacha in Russia and a life of comfort, in exchange for returning all the dough.  Another factor to consider: Assad is a bit of a megalomaniac; he is missing his father's pragmatic nature, and he doesn't want to lose.  I can't imagine that Bashir has ever lost at anything.  If he takes a close look at a map, he mas to realize that his control is limited to a small stretch of land in far western Syria, and the area around the capital.  We believe that Assad is playing a waiting game, hopeful that the United States, Europe, China and Russia will decide that he should be part of the solution to the ISIS problem.  He is counting on Russia and China to save his neck.  After today and the UNSC statement, he might just end up surviving after all.

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