The Mideastwire Blog

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

How the US lost control of the “control collapse” scenario in Syria by “leading violence from behind”

During those crucial first six months of the Syria crisis when Assad had not reached any “point of no return” in terms of violence (though horrible, it had not been pointed to as a political reason for totally obstructing negotiations),  US officials – including many that I met or knew personally – were very very happy to see Assad, Hizbullah etc having serious domestic problems over the Syria rebellion.

There was a dominant thought in DC that this would cause either the downfall of Assad – great – or would hurt him such that he would accept previously unacceptable demands by the US and Israel. So instead of immediately drawing Assad in closer – and Mubarakizing him and his regime steadily , in a patient strategy that would eventually allow his regime to be swept away with much less of the current violence… I wrote about this subject in May 2011 here: US and others aided and abetted their local allies to press violence and refused to offer any serious carrots to Assad.

They said those first six months essentially: change and submit to our conditions or die. And please dear reader, as a matter of analysis, do set aside the public overtures by Qatar and other states that seemed “easy” or reasonable for the Assad regime to accept: In the end, the only power and word that really mattered in a tough, unpredictable and bad faith negotiating  situation where Syria was facing a serious challenge were US gauantees and US carrots.

These were never on the table, quite simply, in a credible, much less a public, manner.

With no serious US-LED effort to bring Assad in closer on offer, there was no reasonable calculation seductive enough for the regime to change its behavoir.

Given this incentive structure and the narrow (often stupid and always violent) regime thinking which we all know, the obvious dynamic by the regime was to go in deeper, harder and more violent. This stupid and frankly immoral (though immoral for me from an opposite angle) original strategy by the US of “take it or leave it” and we are going to step back and let pressure and violence build, and we expect your brutal forces to act with more brutality and thereby create wedges and weaknesses in your structure to our delight – failed massively.

Bottom line: Assad and the regime and their allies were always going to fight this thing to the bitter end if pressed that way either through force or the absence of a meaningful alternative, and this was going to be a disaster for all. Knowing this early on, the US and its allies should have made immediate moves to bring Assad in closer, split the resistance axis through meaningful concessions to Assad (i.e. NOT try to get concessions from the far weaker power now pressed domestically by unrest!) and thereby implement a medium term strategy of Mubarakizing the regime (as I wrote in the link above). This would have certainly delayed democracy for Syrians, and would have been politically hard, but we can now see it would have meant less dead syrians, less ruined lives and NOT the major regional war which is almost upon us all.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 29, 2013 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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