Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writing Arab history with Jewish blood

It is hard to extrapolate a sense of security by Syrians from all the latest news on Assad's nuclear activities, which finally has been leaked. Does Assad really believe Syria can become a nuclear power? Even if it does, can one imagine a more dangerous man with his finger on the button?

Assad's pursuit of nuclear weapons will not be abated or discouraged even though his regime has suffered humiliation at the hands of a new Israeli military confidence. Likewise, Israel cannot sustain a long term monitoring program in which any oversight or small failure can have disastrous consequences.

The concept of regime change for Syria must take front and center stage again because Israel, as the short tenure of Assad in power has demonstrated, will never be safe as long as it does not become active in his demise.

Assad has proven to the world that not only is he an irresponsible man but also that he is a dangerous one as well. Rolling the dice on the hope of regime behavior change will exact too high a price for the international community to absorb given his penchant for the extreme and given his misconceptions of his own limitations.

One fact missed by all Middle East experts should sound the alarm in Israel and in Syria as well: If Assad wanted to use his nuclear adventurism for extortion, as is the habit of poor and bankrupt militant regimes, Assad would have announced it to the world the way North Korea did. His stealth behavior is an irrefutable proof that Assad wants to write Arab history with Jewish blood.

People like to think that nuclear power in the hands of responsible people has in effect the same parity as ones illegally obtained by irresponsible men. Far from the truth. In a democracy, it takes many to make a nuclear-use decision but in a dictatorship like Assad's, it takes unbalanced and dangerous man.

Offensive weaponry kept secret
The Syrian opposition hangs its hopes partially on our constant activity and partially on Assad's mistakes because we know that the international community will eventually burn its short fuse and facilitate the erection of a new Syria to be governed by responsible people. However, it looks like Assad's defining moment lies not in the terror he is exporting but rather in the patience so many countries, including Israel, have demonstrated towards his actions.

The problem with this "Policy of Patience" is that Assad cannot face his limitations and with his newly found sense of invincibility, he will continuously terrorize and abashedly pursue unconventional goals aimed, in their collective entirety, at the cause of destroying Israel.

It is immeasurably wrong not to fear Assad's real intentions lost in the midst of analysis by Syrian experts. Here are some sobering facts:

1. Assad’s alliance with Iran, a country that has called for Israel’s destruction publicly. Since Iran is not an Arab nation, Assad sees an opportunity to follow-thru on Ahmadinajead’s threats to destroy Israel and become the 21st century Salah Eddine of the Arab world with Iran's help who cannot replace Assad amongst the 300 million Arabs in the region and needs him to take the credit in order to rule the region through him.

2. Assad is the new Yasser Arafat. His actions, no matter how covert, point to more than just a policy of survival. Like Arafat who claimed peace but worked for the destruction of Israel in a slow fashion, Assad is following in exactly the same footsteps.

3. Assad has been emboldened by how easy it is to stand up to Israel and in certain instances defeat it by defeating its morale (Hezbollah’s war of 2006).

4. Assad’s open discord with the Arab countries (especially Saudi Arabia) is intended to prepare the ground to take the Arab street to his side through his actions against Israel.

5. All of Assad’s defensive arsenal is public information (weapons from Russia) and all his offensive weaponry is secret, which is another indication of his real intentions.

6. Nothing replaces sheer determination to upset a seemingly winning hand. The continued killing by Assad of Lebanese politicians is according his regime a sense of power and a breathing room as it demonstrates its fearlessness in spite of international pressure. This is a golden opportunity for the US and Israel to strike fear in the heart of Assad and given our recent history with him, the man is susceptible to be scared (witness Syrian troops pull out of Lebanon with the passage of one UN resolution). It is time to up the ante against Assad to reflect how serious the international community is about his nuclear ambitions. If we give him a free pass once again, it would be like taking thousands of Iraqi, Lebanese, and Israeli citizens, line them against a wall, and simply murder them with cold blood.

Farid Ghadry is the founder of the Syrian Reform Party and the president of the Syrian Democratic Coalition

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