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SYRIA - The Options For Assad.

The strategic options for the Assad regime are narrowing rapidly. If he grasps what is really happening around him and within Syria, Assad will have to move fast in a direction which will be in line with - rather than against - a changing Pax Americana. None of the other choices will guarantee the regime's survival.

Bush may have grasped the essential elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he is still a long way from understanding that Syria also needs to be included in the peace process. There is much the Assad regime needs to do to convince Bush that peace between Syria and Israel is essential, beginning with Damascus opening up to meaningful reforms.

The US needs an honourable exit from the bloody mess in Iraq. Prominent commentator Patrick Seale has written in Gulf News that if the Bush administration genuinely seeks a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, "then it must engage with both Tehran and Damascus, and not seek to browbeat them into submission". But Tehran and Damascus will have to offer what will convince a changing Pax Americana of the need to engage with them both.

In an editorial under the title, "Lebanon for the Lebanese", The New York Times on March 5 said: "Syria's dynastic dictatorship has run Lebanon as a profitable fief, twisting the arms of Lebanese politicians, and the language of Lebanon's constitution, to serve its own interests. Military control of Lebanon has also given Damascus effective control over the terrorist activities of the Hezbollah militia, which is backed by Iran, along Lebanon's border with Israel... Syria has used Hezbollah to put military pressure on Israel without exposing its own forces and territory to direct retaliation". It concluded by saying: "Assad can no longer afford to ignore the world's growing impatience".
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Title Annotation:Bashar Assad
Publication:APS Diplomat Fate of the Arabian Peninsula
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Mar 7, 2005
Previous Article:SYRIA - The Sharon & Hizbollah Factors.
Next Article:SYRIA - The Iraq Factor.

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