Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Patrick Seale, Assad Apologist, Welcomes the New Cold War

According to Patrick Seale, Assad's troubles threaten that honorable
Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Hamas axis.

For a minute there, Patrick Seale, Hafez al-Assad's biographer and Assad Family running-dog-lackey*, was in a delicate position vis a vis the regime's brutality against its own people. It was a tricky balancing act being an honorary spokeman for the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Hamas axis – a phrase he continually returns to as a warning that the Assad regime must not fail because of its position as leader of the 'resistance' against Israel's quest for domination:

“If the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad fails to reassert its authority, and is instead brought down or merely enfeebled by a prolonged period of popular agitation, the geopolitical implications could be considerable. Syria's allies – the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Shia resistance movement Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hamas government in Gaza – would all come under pressure. For all three, loss of Syrian support would be painful”.

But now he is positively foaming at the mouth with anticipation at the potential re-ignition of the Cold War because Russia and China have asserted themselves at the UN Security Council as the bulwark against US and the West. is good, again:

“At a stroke, the debate was no longer simply about Syria’s internal power struggle. Instead, with their vetoes, Moscow and Beijing were saying that they too had interests in the Middle East that they were determined to protect. The region was no longer an exclusive Western preserve under the hegemony of the United States and its allies.”

Regarding the Assad regime’s management of the protests from day one, Seale can only manage to describe it euphemistically as a mistake:

“The government’s mistake was to use live rounds against street protesters who were – at first at least – demonstrating peacefully. The crisis could perhaps have been defused with the implementation of immediate reforms. Instead, mounting casualties have created enormous bitterness among the population, reducing the chance of a negotiated settlement.”.

And he blames the opposition for ‘resorting to arms,’ for ‘militarizing.’ But he doesn’t really care about the massacres. His unreconstructed world-view has been confirmed:

“At the heart of the international struggle is a concerted attempt by the United States and its allies to bring down the ruling regimes in both Iran and Syria. Iran’s “crime” has been to refuse to submit to U.S. hegemony in the oil-rich Gulf region and to appear to pose a challenge, with its nuclear program, to Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly. At the same time, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – partners for the past three decades – have managed to make a dent in Israel’s military supremacy. They have in recent years been the main obstacle to U.S-Israeli regional dominance.” Russia and China, then, are on board with the ‘resistance’. 

Seale -- who, BTW, claimed Israel murdered Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri -- ends this article with this favorite refrain: "The wave of protest engulfing the Arab world has pushed the Arab-Israeli conflict into second place. But that can only be temporary. Until it is resolved, the region will know no stability and little peace."  

Interestingly, in the NY Times today, Efraim Halevy, former director of Mossad, recommends an inverted scenario: the best way to weaken Iran (and consequently that of the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Hamas axis) would be to remove Assad. Russia and China could very well benefit from this too:

Russia and China, both of which vetoed a United Nations resolution last week calling on Mr. Assad to step down, should realize that his downfall could serve their interests, too. After all, Iranian interventionism could wreak havoc in Muslim-majority areas to Russia’s south and China’s west. And a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a serious potential threat on Russia’s southern border.
“Russia’s interests in Syria are not synonymous with Iran’s, and Moscow can now prove this by withdrawing its unwavering support for Mr. Assad. Russia simply wishes to maintain its access to Syria’s Mediterranean ports in Tartus and Latakia and to remain a major arms supplier to Damascus. If Washington is willing to allow that, and not to sideline Russia as it did before intervening in Libya, the convergence of American and Russian interests in Iran and Syria could pave the way for Mr. Assad’s downfall.
“Once this is achieved, the entire balance of forces in the region would undergo a sea change. Iranian-sponsored terrorism would be visibly contained; Hezbollah would lose its vital Syrian conduit to Iran and Lebanon could revert to long-forgotten normalcy; Hamas fighters in Gaza would have to contemplate a future without Iranian weaponry and training; and the Iranian people might once again rise up against the regime that has brought them such pain and suffering.” Interesting. Read the rest here.

* Running-dog lackey was the Chinese Communist version of the expression useful idiot used to describe Soviet apologists in the West. Pardon the irony.