The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Randa Slim speculates on yet another “GAME CHANGER,” tipping points, point of no return….

Randa Slim’s CNN piece here is useful for highlighting the potential importance of more spontaneous local council’s in Syria but as with so many of these sorts of speculations… there is NO evidence in the entire piece to support her hope/notion. One can certainly say that a lot of things are developing happening, energizing in Syria, but that does not mean it is ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

The piece also suffers from a number of critical gaps which, for the more serious reader, leads one to then question Slim’s main claim which is offered with no evidence – in other words, if her piece did not seem to be missing some fairly large points, the reader MIGHT then be able to trust her assumptions. unfortunately, this is not the case.

She writes:

“The six-point peace plan for Syria proposed by Kofi Annan is doomed to fail for one simple reason: Neither President Bashar al-Assad nor the government opposition is interested in making it work.”

— Randa knows very well that constructing a simple dialactic between the regime not wanting the plan to succeed and the opposition not wanting it leaves out the critical, preponderant powers in this confrontation: Russia, and on the other side, the US some European states and the Arab monarchies. How can one seriously consider a piece that leaves this bit out? I would argue – OR AT LEAST SHE SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THEN PERHAPS DISMISSED – that Russia very much wants the plan to succeed and has substantial hard and soft power to bring to bear in a complex dialectical process of international relations. ON THE OTHER HAND, I would argue THE critical “game changing” (what a terribly empty word at this point, no?) aspect of power is the inability or resistance of the US and its regime clients to move positively on the Annan Plan. They may be willing to – FOR NOW –  essentially stall in neutral and not arm the opposition, create mischief, intervene etc. but the success of the plan depends on A REVERSE MOVEMENT of power in fact. Randa completely leaves out any discussion of the dynamics of power – and in my mind, leaves out the US-Arab regime stupidity in not positively affecting the plan’s prospects with positive movements so as to better gain control of the process and steadily undermine Bashar’s ability and desire to use violence.

The simple construction of two immanent actors involved in a mutually negative process might be a decent read for CNN viewers but it is unhelpful to the process of finding solutions… and ultimately misleading for viewers as well, of course!

She also has this to assert:

“From the onset of the uprisings, his government knew that a repeat of the protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square or Bahrain’s Pearl Square in Damascus or Aleppo will mean regime change.

“(activist)…We don’t need military intervention, we don’t need humanitarian corridors, we don’t need safe areas. Enforce the cease-fire and millions will march toward the presidential palace demanding Assad’s ouster.”

But then – in classic fashion a la the last 14 months of coverage of syria – she has this curious graf:

“..To date, only four of Syria’s 14 governorates constitute the major hubs of the protest movement: Homs, Hama, Idlib and Daraa. While we have seen protests in other regions, they have not been as sustained and extensive as those in the four governorates. This is partly due to the state of fragmentation in the opposition ranks, especially among the exile groups, which do not inspire confidence among fence-sitters.”

— So now I am confused, since Randa is completely, uncritically buying into the notion that allowing protests means millions take to the streets and the regime collapses. But there is still apparently very strong and enduring support for the regime, she notes.

Shouldn’t this contradiction lead us to question a key opposition claim of the certainty of Bashar’s opposition to the Annan plan… at the very least?

Of course, in doing so, one would be left with the difficult prospect that Bashar’s regime may be able to be drawn into the annan process…. that they may not TOTALLY bet on and want the collapse of it.

What then! This is precisely where some smart ideas – and ICG had a good report finally on this – are desperately needed!

Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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