The importance of Syria

Brian Whitaker points out that Syria has a lot more regional significance than Libya:

‘Paradoxically, Syria’s strategic importance also helps to explain the lack of attention it is getting. Interested parties – the US, Israel, other Arab regimes, etc – would much prefer that the problem went away. Some of them recognise that Syria will have to change eventually but they are fearful of the possible outcome and don’t really want any more uncertainties just at the moment. While they probably won’t do much to prolong Bashar’s stay in power, they won’t try to tip him over the edge either – at least, not at this stage.

In the meantime, the Syrian protesters will have to rely on their own resources – which (as I argued repeatedly in the case of Tunisia) may be no bad thing. It’s also worth highlighting that whatever President Bashar may say about foreign conspiracies supposedly behind the protesters, they are unlikely to delight Israelis or American neocons with their agenda.’

Bashar is probably the best-educated and best-spoken of all the Arab autocrats; shame he chats such noise. His speech was badly calculated – the revolt looks set to grow and any concessions now are going to be a humiliation for him. This also raises the gloomy likelihood that the Syrian uprising is going to end bloodily. Just look at this bunch:

In better news from Syria, they released Mohamed Radwan; let’s hope the other detainees fare as well.

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