Western agreement ‘could leave Syria in Assad’s hands

By: Robert Fisk

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria may last longer than his opponents believe – and with the tacit acceptance of Western leaders anxious to secure new oil routes to Europe via Syria before the fall of the regime. According to a source closely involved in the possible transition from Ba’ath party power, the Americans, Russians and Europeans are also putting together a deal that would permit Assad to remain leader for at least another two years in return for political concessions to Iran and Saudi Arabia in both Lebanon and Iraq.

For its part, Russia would be assured of its continued military base at Tartous in Syria and a relationship with whatever government in Damascus eventually emerges with the support of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia’s recent concession – that Assad may not be essential in a future Syrian power structure – is part of an understanding in the West which may accept Assad’s presidency in return for an agreement that stops a further slide into civil war.

Information from Syria suggests that Assad’s army is now “taking a beating” from armed rebels, who include Islamist as well as nationalist forces; at least 6,000 soldiers are believed to have been killed in action since the rebellion against Assad began 17 months ago. There are unconfirmed reports that during any one week up to a thousand Syrian fighters are being trained by mercenaries in Jordan at a base used by Western authorities for personnel seeking “anti-terrorist” security exercises.

The US-Russian negotiations – easy to deny, and somewhat cynically hidden behind the mutual accusations of Hillary Clinton and her Russian opposite number, Sergei Lavrov – would mean the superpowers would acknowledge Iran’s influence over Iraq and its relationship with its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, while Saudi Arabia – and Qatar – would be encouraged to guarantee Sunni Muslim rights in Lebanon and in Iraq. Baghdad’s emergence as a centre of Shia power has caused much anguish in Saudi Arabia whose support for the Sunni minority in Iraq has led to political division.

But the real object of talks between the world powers revolves around the West’s determination to secure oil and gas from the Gulf states without relying upon supplies from Moscow. “Russia can turn off the spigot to Europe whenever it wants – and this gives it tremendous political power,” the source says. “We are talking about two fundamental oil routes to the West – one from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Jordan and Syria and the Mediterranean to Europe, another from Iran via Shia southern Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean and Europe. This is what matters. This is why they will be prepared to let Assad last another two years. They would be perfectly content with that. And Russia will have a place in the new Syria.”

Diplomats who are still discussing these plans should, of course, be treated with some scepticism. It is one thing to hear political leaders excoriating the Syrian regime for its abuse of human rights and massacres – another to realise that Western diplomats are prepared to put this to one side for the “bigger picture” which, as usual in the Middle East, means oil and gas. They are prepared to tolerate Assad’s presence until the end of the crisis, rather than insisting his departure is the start of the end. The Americans apparently say the same. Now Russia believes that stability is more important than Assad himself.

It is clear that Assad should have gone ahead with extensive reforms when his father Hafez died in 2000. At that stage, say Syrian officials, Syria’s economy was in a better state than Greece is today. And the saner voices influencing Assad’s leadership were slowly deprived of their power. An official close to the president called him during the height of last year’s fighting to say that “Homs is burning”. Assad’s reaction was to refuse all personal conversation with the official in future, insisting on only text messages. “Assad no longer has power over all that happens in Syria,” the informant says. “Not because he doesn’t want to – there’s just too much going on across the country.”

What Assad is still hoping for, according to Arab military veterans, is an Algerian solution. After the cancellation of democratic elections in Algeria, its army and generals fought a merciless war against rebels and Islamist guerrillas across the country throughout the 1990s, using torture and massacre to retain government power but leaving an estimated 200,000 dead.

Amid this crisis, the Algerian military sent a delegation to Damascus to learn from Hafez al-Assad’s Syrian army how it destroyed the Islamist rebellion in Hama – at a cost of up to 20,000 dead – in 1982. The Algerian civil war – remarkably similar to that now afflicting Assad’s regime – displayed many of the characteristics of the current tragedy in Syria: babies with their throats cut, families slaughtered by mysterious semi-military “armed groups”, whole towns shelled by government forces.

And, more interesting to Assad’s men, the West continued to support the Algerian regime with weapons and political encouragement during the 1990s while huffing and puffing about human rights. Algeria’s oil and gas reserves proved more important than civilian deaths – just as the Damascus regime now hopes to rely upon the West’s desire for via-Syria oil and gas to tolerate further killings. Syrians say Jamil Hassan, the head of Air Force intelligence in Syria is now the “killer” leader for the regime – not so much Bashar’s brother Maher whose 4th Division is perhaps being given too much credit for suppressing the revolt. It has certainly failed to crush it.

The West, meanwhile has to deal with Syria’s contact man, Mohamed Nassif, perhaps Assad’s closest political adviser. The question remains as to whether Assad – however much he fails to control military events on the ground – really grasps the epic political importance of what is going on in his country. Prior to the rebellion, European and Turkish leaders were astonished to hear from him that Sunni forces in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli were trying “to create a Salafist state” that would threaten Syria. How this extraordinary assertion – based, presumably on the tittle-tattle of an intelligence agent – could have formulated itself in Assad’s mind, remained a mystery.

Don’t ban Assad from new deal, says Russia

A plan for a transitional unity government to bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria yesterday hit its first stumbling block before even reaching the negotiating table as Russia said the international community had no right to exclude President Bashar al-Assad from the body, a key demand of the opposition.

The leaked new initiative by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, expected to dominate key talks in Geneva tomorrow, came as tensions continued to escalate, with Turkey amassing military hardware including anti-aircraft guns at its border. Saudi troops were also reported to be on high alert as yet another large explosion rocked Damascus.

Syrian state television blamed yesterday’s blast outside the capital’s Palace of Justice, the country’s highest court, on “terrorists”. Footage showed scorched cars and at least three were reported injured.

The Independent

  • wargame1

    Major General And Brigadier General Captured By The FSA In Damascus These two terrorist are Brigadier General Mounir Shleibi of the notorious Palestine Intelligence Branch and Major General Faraj al-Maqt of Syrian Central Command. They were captured at the Adawi highway in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus. Dog Bashar needs to appoint new personnel now. 

  • wargame1

    Major General And Brigadier General Captured By The FSA In Damascus These two terrorist are Brigadier General Mounir Shleibi of the notorious Palestine Intelligence Branch and Major General Faraj al-Maqt of Syrian Central Command. They were captured at the Adawi highway in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus. Dog Bashar needs to appoint new personnel now. 

  • 73Corty77

    This must really piss all you Salafi animals off. Knowing that Basher is defiantly going no where now. After 2 years there will be an election and guess what. He will be re elected and still be in power. You need to under stand you dopes. Syria has 23 million citizens. Of that 23 million possibly less than 10% dislike him. 

    This was proven when the millions of people from all different religions hit the streets in the past 15 months showing nothing but support and admiration towards Basher Al Assad and his government.
    And this support was on more than 1 occasion. But I suppose you only believe the lies and fabrication of the western media who tell you that only his sect are supporting him.The only thing the Free Syrian Ass Holes have been able to achieve is stop his supports from coming out and show that support. That’s because every time someone does the Free Syrian Ass Holes torture and kill them.    As I’ve said in the past. BASHER, IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH are going no where.Once this blows over and make no mistake it will, it will be pay back time. I hope god has mercy on you souls because Syria wont. 

    • 5thDrawer

      You watching SANA all the time?

      • 73Corty77

        Let me guess 5th SANA is bias. I suppose the Russian, Chinese and Irans media are also lying.

        Just remember who owns most if not all the western media including many of the Arab ones. The very same people who want to see the demise of Syria and its people.

        I take it your a big fan of Al Jazeera. Now they never tell lies do they. 

        • 5thDrawer

          Actually Corty, BBC is the absolute best anywhere. :-)  For odd news a few days behind, try Tripoli ‘Daily Star’. :-) ‘Pravda’ is a wonder of Putinism – defaulted by Communist propaganda. :-)
          I DID note that CNN was dumping on Obama-Care and saying the court had decided against it before anyone knew what the court had decided – right up ’till the moment they had to eat their silly words and choke on them. The USA is filled with people trying to ‘make’ the news … and their paranoid society runs wild with it.
          So, you just have to keep looking around Corty … either stick to verified events, or browse a whole bunch of different opinion pieces to get a few facts out of them. Up to you, I guess.

        • master09

          Come on Corty you should know the Chinese, Russian, ME and western media is all controlled. Look at Lebanon every politician has a station or newspaper who rite what they want for the group that follow them… how is that free press…. If you think the stations you listen to are the only ones telling the truth well what can I say….
          Like a friend who says why do you listen to that station, you should listen to this one. Well you know my response to that was., yes your rite keep getting brainwashed. NO MEDIA IS TRUE not even the one you listen to or the one I do….  

      • master09

        I get mine first hand 5th from the streets of Lebanon. The problem sometimes is the strory will change every three steps I take. They all have a story to tell…

        • 73Corty77

          Completely agree with you, most media is controlled.
          I was merely trying express my disappointed and pity on how most of society only believe what they want to believe.  
           

        • 5thDrawer

          Yes master09 … it’s amazing that, isn’t it? That old ‘game’ of 30 people in a circle in which one begins a whisper in an ear, and waits to see as it goes around the circle how accurate it is by the time it has passed through the 30, is an indicator of the failings of the human brain.
          Something learned by experience is never related properly unless written down accurately.
          And I move to Yosemite …

      • MeYosemite

        So what do you make of Fisk’s article, I have repect for him.

        • 5thDrawer

          All theory as I can see. Fisk virtually begins with “According to a source closely involved ….” :-( 
           For me, all the rest becomes ‘theory’. (So MANY of the ‘articles’ quote ‘unofficial and unnamed sources’ I hesitate to tell you what I think. WHY can’t anyone talk openly ????? Say what IS, and WHO said it – perhaps like the YouTube video-people try to describe without the words??)
          Fisk goes on:
          ” … is part of an understanding in the West which may ..” – “Information from Syria suggests…”- “There are unconfirmed reports that …” – “… negotiations – easy to deny, and somewhat cynically hidden …” – ” ….  the source says … ” – “The Americans apparently say … ” – “…. according to Arab military veterans …” – ” …. based, presumably on the tittle-tattle of an intelligence agent …” – “The leaked new initiative … ” – ” .. troops were also reported to be on high alert … ” – ” … expected to dominate key talks … ” …. 
          Geezz, did I get them all??
          I love this one … “It is clear that Assad should have gone ahead with ….”  HA ! What is clear is that he didn’t. EH ???? :-)
          What I fear is that stupid politicians read things this way too … ” somebody said, it’s a word I heard, those guys ALWAYS do that, and my people have told me …”
          Hmmmm … was that enough Yosemite ?? You can have respect for him as a writer … and perhaps he has an ear on the inner workings of many minds … but, really ??

      • MeYosemite

        I don’t know, I met him once in early 80’s back with Bashir time. I read his book after, pity the nation, and it striked as my biography generalized in a sense. His writings were precise making him a founded journalist. I think his experience as an outsider for so long tend can lead to an objective view to our own theory making. With today’s super power agreement on the transitional government, I see Assad or his shadow survive as stated in this article.

      • zabada

        Assad , stone age politician.

      • zabada

        Assad , stone age politician.

  • 73Corty77

    This must really piss all you Salafi animals off. Knowing that Basher is defiantly going no where now. After 2 years there will be an election and guess what. He will be re elected and still be in power. You need to under stand you dopes. Syria has 23 million citizens. Of that 23 million possibly less than 10% dislike him. 

    This was proven when the millions of people from all different religions hit the streets in the past 15 months showing nothing but support and admiration towards Basher Al Assad and his government.
    And this support was on more than 1 occasion. But I suppose you only believe the lies and fabrication of the western media who tell you that only his sect are supporting him.The only thing the Free Syrian Ass Holes have been able to achieve is stop his supports from coming out and show that support. That’s because every time someone does the Free Syrian Ass Holes torture and kill them.    As I’ve said in the past. BASHER, IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH are going no where.Once this blows over and make no mistake it will, it will be pay back time. I hope god has mercy on you souls because Syria wont. 

    • 5thDrawer

      You watching SANA all the time?

      • 73Corty77

        Let me guess 5th SANA is bias. I suppose the Russian, Chinese and Irans media are also lying.

        Just remember who owns most if not all the western media including many of the Arab ones. The very same people who want to see the demise of Syria and its people.

        I take it your a big fan of Al Jazeera. Now they never tell lies do they. 

        • 5thDrawer

          Actually Corty, BBC is the absolute best anywhere. :-)  For odd news a few days behind, try Tripoli ‘Daily Star’. :-) ‘Pravda’ is a wonder of Putinism – defaulted Communist propaganda. :-)
          I DID note that CNN was dumping on Obama-Care and saying the court had decided against it before anyone knew what the court had decided – right up ’till the moment they had to eat their silly words and choke on them. The USA is filled with people trying to ‘make’ the news … and their paranoid society runs wild with it.
          So, you just have to keep looking around Corty … either stick to verified events, or browse a whole bunch of different opinion pieces to get a few facts out of them. Up to you, I guess.

        • master09

          Come on Corty you should know the Chinese, Russian, ME and western media is all controlled. Look at Lebanon every politician has a station or newspaper who rite what they want for the group that follow them… how is that free press…. If you think the stations you listen to are the only ones telling the truth well what can I say….
          Like a friend who says why do you listen to that station, you should listen to this one. Well you know my response to that was., yes your rite keep getting brainwashed. NO MEDIA IS TRUE not even the one you listen to or the one I do….  

      • master09

        I get mine first hand 5th from the streets of Lebanon. The problem sometimes is the strory will change every three steps I take. They all have a story to tell…

        • 73Corty77

          Completely agree with you, most media is controlled.
          I was merely trying express my disappointed and pity on how most of society only believe what they want to believe.  
           

        • 5thDrawer

          Yes master09 … it’s amazing that, isn’t it? That old ‘game’ of 30 people in a circle in which one begins a whisper in an ear, and waits to see as it goes around the circle how accurate it is by the time it has passed through the 30, is an indicator of the failings of the human brain.
          Something learned by experience is never related properly unless written down accurately.
          And I move to Yosemite …

      • MeYosemite

        So what do you make of Fisk’s article, I have repect for him.

        • 5thDrawer

          All theory as I can see. Fisk virtually begins with “According to a source closely involved ….” :-( 
           For me, all the rest becomes ‘theory’. (So MANY of the ‘articles’ quote ‘unofficial and unnamed sources’ I hesitate to tell you what I think. WHY can’t anyone talk openly ????? Say what IS, and WHO said it – perhaps like the YouTube video-people try to describe without the words??)
          Fisk goes on:” … is part of an understanding in the West which may ..” – “Information from Syria suggests…”- “There are unconfirmed reports that …” – “… negotiations – easy to deny, and somewhat cynically hidden …” – ” ….  the source says … ” – “The Americans apparently say … ” – “…. according to Arab military veterans …” – ” …. based, presumably on the tittle-tattle of an intelligence agent …” – “The leaked new initiative … ” – ” .. troops were also reported to be on high alert … ” – ” … expected to dominate key talks … ” …. Geezz, did I get them all??I love this one … “It is clear that Assad should have gone ahead with ….”  HA ! What is clear is that he didn’t. EH ???? :-)What I fear is that stupid politicians read things this way too … ” somebody said, it’s a word I heard, those guys ALWAYS do that, and my people have told me …”
          Hmmmm … was that enough Yosemite ?? You can have respect for him as a writer … and perhaps he has an ear on the inner workings of many minds … but, really ??

      • MeYosemite

        I don’t know, I met him once in early 80’s back with Bashir time. I read his book after, pity the nation, and it striked as my biography generalized in a sense. His writings were precise making him a founded journalist. I think his experience as an outsider for so long tend can lead to an objective view to our own theory making. With today’s super power agreement on the transitional government, I see Assad or his shadow survive as stated in this article.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003332956647 Ustaz Bidin

        Assad , stone age politician.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AS25CCDH43YHKG5TGNFHCHGLDI Akhenaton

    Make no mistake, Algerian salafist terrorists were supported and harboured by western power who reconsidered their support after 9/11 terror attack in the US. They are supporting again terrorists in Syria under the false pretext of human right violations and democracy, of course that is BS. This support will again come back to hunt America, just like it did when the US and its allies were supporting Ben laden in afghanistan befor he turned against them and killed more than 3000 American in American land. This is if we assume that there was no American/Alqaeda joint venture plot in order to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop playing with fire America  One more thing, I know Syria and agree with #1 comment, Syrians in their majority support president Assad, any free election will prove it.

    • 73Corty77

      That is why they are trying so hard to push him out now. They know if an election is tested he will win hands down. 

      Also completely agree with you, the US and Alqaeda are one in the same. The difference between the past and now is the US and its allies have come out on more than one occasion and showed full support to the terrorists in Syria. Not even trying to hide it.

       They have even gone as fair as supplying these animals with weapons and the like.  

      I think on this occasion the US and its allies have bitten off more than they can chew. They know that a war against Syria means a war against Russia, Iran and China.

      The sad thing about that is that if God forbid a war breaks out , the only one who will suffer is the average Joe.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AS25CCDH43YHKG5TGNFHCHGLDI Akhenaton

    Make no mistake, Algerian salafist terrorists were supported and harboured by western power who reconsidered their support after 9/11 terror attack in the US. They are supporting again terrorists in Syria under the false pretext of human right violations and democracy, of course that is BS. This support will again come back to hunt America, just like it did when the US and its allies were supporting Ben laden in afghanistan befor he turned against them and killed more than 3000 American in American land. This is if we assume that there was no American/Alqaeda joint venture plot in order to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop playing with fire America  One more thing, I know Syria and agree with #1 comment, Syrians in their majority support president Assad, any free election will prove it.

    • 73Corty77

      That is why they are trying so hard to push him out now. They know if an election is tested he will win hands down. 

      Also completely agree with you, the US and Alqaeda are one in the same. The difference between the past and now is the US and its allies have come out on more than one occasion and showed full support to the terrorists in Syria. Not even trying to hide it.

       They have even gone as fair as supplying these animals with weapons and the like.  

      I think on this occasion the US and its allies have bitten off more than they can chew. They know that a war against Syria means a war against Russia, Iran and China.

      The sad thing about that is that if God forbid a war breaks out , the only one who will suffer is the average Joe.

  • Fauzia45

    The struggle for power in the Middle East and Western Interests has made it difficult or sometimes not possible for its people and their aspirations toward freedom !!!!

  • Fauzia45

    The struggle for power in the Middle East and Western Interests has made it difficult or sometimes not possible for its people and their aspirations toward freedom !!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YWMXIO5DTLQCCT3ZVG7T3XEKQA Katan Wahab

    if Assad is accepted in the comprosied deal. everything the revolution standed for would be for nothing. IT is a fact that 80% of syrians wants Assad out immediately. Justice should  not be comprimised.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YWMXIO5DTLQCCT3ZVG7T3XEKQA Katan Wahab

    if Assad is accepted in the comprosied deal. everything the revolution standed for would be for nothing. IT is a fact that 80% of syrians wants Assad out immediately. Justice should  not be comprimised.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A3P5T65BAE2LE7G34BHT2CY4KE TonyT

    There is no such deal….this post is propoganda. Assad is out, the western cabal want a middle east & eventual world war, and plan on the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in Syria. Assad will only be saved via a Russian ship that will take him to safe haven provided by Putin. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A3P5T65BAE2LE7G34BHT2CY4KE TonyT

    There is no such deal….this post is propoganda. Assad is out, the western cabal want a middle east & eventual world war, and plan on the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in Syria. Assad will only be saved via a Russian ship that will take him to safe haven provided by Putin.