The Arab clients of Washington have a plan for Syria. A sizable group of Arab states are demanding that Bashar Assad relinquish power. Not via the street, but by dissolving his regime himself. After months of confrontations, justifiable or not, between the regime and protesters — or collaborators with foreign powers near and far— America’s Arabs are telling President Assad the following:
Withdraw the army and security forces from the streets. Release all political and security detainees. Leave people to take to the streets to demand your overthrow. Remove your appointees from state and public bodies. Change the constitution now. Make your party relinquish all official positions. Then begin a dialogue with the Syrian National Council (SNC), which the world has decided is the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition. You must hold this dialogue at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, because you cannot be trusted to keep your word. You will then arrange for early parliamentary elections on terms to be drawn up by experts in the field (including from the Gulf states, no less). And get ready to make an early exit from office.
If you refuse these orders – and you are now qualified to do no more than listen to our demands – you will be held responsible for the consequences of your actions. In other words, you will be punished. A number of steps will be taken in this regard:
First, we will isolate you in the Arab world (don’t you remember trying that in 2005). We will withdraw all remaining Arab ambassadors from your capital, and expel your diplomatic missions from our countries. We will officially declare the SNC the sole representative of the Syrian people. We will turn over Syria’s embassies and diplomatic missions to the SNC, as we did with Libya. We will name Radwan Ziadeh as Syrian foreign minister (he currently works out of the office of a junior minion at the US State Department – but he will only be required to read out prepared statements, so he can practice his pronunciation). Burhan Ghalioun will be accorded the protocol and VIP treatment worthy of a president (special suites at top hotels, police motorcades, etc.). He will be entitled to select the members of the delegations that he will lead as he travels the world to attend ceremonies of appointing new Syrian ambassadors.
After that, the Arab regimes will add, we will announce the severing of economic and trade relations with Syria. Our airlines will no longer fly to and from the country. We will only offer undisclosed flights to anyone wanting to join the rebel army. We will cut off whatever aid we provide to any organization that does not declare its recognition of the SNC. Our blacklists will grow longer than many think possible. We will endorse anyone – civilian, military, or security – who defects from the regime, and support any action taken against its various institutions.
All will come under the heading of legitimate self-defense. We will also promote civil disobedience. We will back any insurrection in the regular army. And if the opposition should suddenly decide that it has turned into an army and wants to form a rebel military force, we’ll back that too. Isn’t it worth studying the experience of Libya? The Arab and Western countries that operated in Libya will try to avoid repeating the organizational and logistical errors that occurred in the former jamahiriyya’s cities before they were destroyed.
To make a long story short, a worldwide campaign of sanctions and embargoes will be mounted against you. If that can’t be done by means of UN Security Council resolutions, countries and groups will take steps of their own. The European Union and the institutions of civil society, no less, will file for indictments in every national and international court, including new ones that may be created especially for Syria. Anyone who retains any connection with the regime will be damned. Learned religious scholars, clerics, and thinkers, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and others, will pronounce it sinful to have anything to do with the regime in Syria. Within weeks, Syria’s only remaining ties will be with rogues like Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas , North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and a few delinquents who support the resistance against Israel.
On top of all that, life will become difficult for those Syrians who stayed at home and failed to take to the streets to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Basma Kadmani and Riad al-Shaqfa and his comrades. Assassinations will be one means of accomplishing this. Operatives and targets are currently being readied. Car-bombings of the kind previously employed in Iraq are another means. A decision has been taken to transfer their use – yes, a decision to transfer – to Syria and Lebanon. The regime’s supporters in Lebanon must pay a price too. Never mind that there will be more casualties. The media will say – quoting anonymous and invisible activists, observers, or eyewitnesses – that the regime perpetrates these terrorist atrocities because it is in crisis.
All this will compensate for the impossibility of a regular military war, directly or by proxy, similar to Libya’s. Practical considerations do not allow an operation of this kind to be launched in Syria at present. But this does not mean there are no alternatives available to those who may be interested. The moment will eventually arrive when the West weighs in with the final fireworks display. This will take the form of an attack aimed at killing whoever needs to be killed, exiling whoever needs to be exiled, and destroying whatever remains to be destroyed. The intention is for the country, by then, to resemble nothing the Arabs have ever seen before — not in Iraq, Libya, or Palestine. It must serve as an example for others. After that, let the world inquire about human rights in Syria.