IN OTHER WORDS
Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, has earned a reputation for reckless behaviour, the antithesis of his father Hafez Assad’s calculating statecraft. By his bungling, Bashar has begun to undo all the patient work his paternal predecessor did to colonise neighbouring Lebanon. He has also misplayed the delicate game of balancing Syria’s intertwined relations with Israel, disparate Palestinian factions, and Washington.
But recent disclosures by officials of Iraq’s interim government suggest that Bashar’s most flagrant and dangerous blunder is to tolerate exiled former officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime who have been financing and guiding a Ba’athist counterrevolution in Iraq from sanctuaries in Syria. Iraq’s ambassador to Syria told the media last week in Damascus that his government has evidence of this. It would be better for all concerned if Bashar heeds Baghdad’s plea to cease colluding with Iraqi Ba’athists in Syria. Bashar’s Ba’athist
order is as much a police state as his father’s was, and Syrian security services would hardly overlook the activities of rich Iraqi Ba’athists living in the poshest neighbourhoods of Damascus. Bashar’s father despised Saddam and his gang. If the son allies himself with his father’s enemies, he may end up undoing everything consolidated through his father’s careful, if ruthless, statecraft. — The Boston Globe