The outcome is looking pretty bleak for Bashar al-Assad in Syria — and even Assad’s regime is reportedly acknowledging that fact. The Associated Press reports that Syria’s current vice-president admitted to a Lebanese newspaper that the army could not defeat the rebels, in an attempt to justify attacks on civilian dissent and support of the rebellion:
Syria’s vice president says the army cannot defeat the rebel forces fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.
The interview with Farouk al-Sharaa in a Lebanese newspaper offered a bleak view of the situation in Syria that is rarely heard from high level government officials who justify the bloody crackdown on dissent as a necessary battle against terrorists.
Al-Sharaa was quoted as saying the military onslaught on the opposition will not lead to definitive victory after 21 months of conflict.
Over the last few days, Assad’s Russian protectors have sent a few mixed messages, too. The speaker of the Duma pointedly noted last week that the Assad regime was “not up to the task” of governance any longer, although the Kremlin hit reverse on another pessimistic comment from a Russian official over the weekend:
Russia denied on Friday that it has changed its position on Syria, trying to dampen speculation that remarks by a senior envoy point to policy differences in Moscow as the civil war turns against President Bashar al-Assad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, a Kremlin envoy to the Middle East, made unusually pessimistic assessment of the situation in Syria on Thursday when he acknowledged that Assad’s opponents might win.
The United States said the remarks showed Moscow was “finally waking up to reality”. But Russia’s Foreign Ministry said he had merely reiterated Moscow’s view that any resolution of the conflict in Syria must not be based on Assad’s departure. …
Lukashevich said Bogdanov’s remarks followed the same “logic” as the Russian position that no deal should be predicated by Assad’s departure.
But Bogdanov may have stepped out of line by serving up a more openly pessimistic view of the conflict than any other Russian official because he did not realize his comments would be made public.
Perhaps we are reaching the final stage of decadent dictatorships — where to run. Nic Robertson has a few ideas about where Assad might find shelter, none of which sound terribly palatable, one ironically so:
Assad wouldn’t want to live in Iran? How interesting, since he’s been the mullah’s errand boy for years in their proxy war against Israel and Lebanon. Assad might be worried about the viability of the mullahcracy, especially given the economic collapse under way there. Saudi Arabia would probably be a better choice, but it’s interesting that Robertson never mentions Russia or China, two of his sponsors on the international stage. Both would probably accept Assad if it came to that pass, and neither are in danger of experiencing regime change.
In the end, though, few dictators see the end coming in time. Tunisia’s Ali was an exception. Most end up like Qaddafi or Nicolae Ceausescu. Such are the wages of oppression and tyranny, and have been from time immemorial. It’s a function of time, not of choice.