Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Arab April Spring Scorecard


Syria’s Assad remains in power despite (thanks to?) brutal suppression. The modest sanctions imposed on his regime will make no difference. Despite Assad’s close alliance with Iran, the political assassinations in Lebanon, and support of Hezbollah, the strange argument still prevails that we would be worse off without the “potential reformer” Assad.

Bad Mistakes:

The Egyptian military’s decision to try Mubarak and the international court indictment of Kaddafi send the message that dictators should hold on to power until their last breath. There is no such thing as a graceful exit. Yemen’s President Saleh got the message and is now refusing to resign. Kaddafi and sons have received the message as well.

Unlikely Wins:

Egypt’s military understands that real democracy can cost it its control of Egypt’s economy and wealth. It will not allow liberal democratic forces time to form real political parties. Egypt’s military will remain in control perhaps in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood. They will increasingly suppress true democratic reformers in subtle but effective ways.

Possible Wins:

Even uncoordinated and weak support from NATO is preventing a defeat of rebel forces by Kaddafi loyalists. As hostilities drag on, a missile is likely to get Kaddafi. Until that happens, there will be a protracted civil war in Libya. If Kaddafi is not killed, NATO countries will lose the will to fight and Kaddafi survives.

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