Saving Bashar's Bacon


According to several sources, the latest being the Washington Post, Syria's Bashar Assad is trying to cut a deal to save his regime, which is likely to be blamed in an end-of-October United Nations report for the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. This would involve caving in to virtually every American demand on Syrian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the fate of the Golan Heights, and more. Yesterday, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Balad noted that a Saudi-Egyptian plan is in the works to reduce pressure on the Syrians.

Two thoughts come to mind: one, such a scheme will likely fail, since neither the U.S. nor France is willing to bail Bashar out, and the German investigator looking into the Hariri murder, Detlev Mehlis, is not someone likely to make deals (though U.S. sources suggest senior UN bureaucrats may be more willing to tone down his final report); and two, the Saudi-Egyptian plan (apparently presented to the Syrians by the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Bandar bin Sultan) is more likely an effort to engineer a peaceful transition away from Assad rule than an effort to save the president's skin.