Al-Assad and his supporters at the last exit before the bridge
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pulled the pin of the bomb that exploded last Wednesday in the heart of the Ba’ath regime months ago, when he executed the massacres in Dera. We know that the bomb exploded in closed-door meetings, but we do not know who exactly was in attendance at the meeting. The world found out speedily via Syria’s Ba’athist-supporting media that some members of the regimes closest circle had been killed in the bombing. We had not been able to confirm or deny the identities of these close members until now. Let us now untangle all the questions this mind-boggling speed raises, and figure out where the Syrian uprisings stand now.
The Yemen, Annan, Geneva and UN plans no longer hold any meaning for the Ba’ath regime. With the deaths of those actors who had bloody hands themselves, any discussion of Syria has been severed from discussion of the Ba’ath regime. In other words, from now on we can talk about Syria separately from the Ba’ath regime. While it is still possible to talk about the UN plan or the Geneva Accord in relation to Syria, I do not believe there is anyone who could offer a peace model for the Ba’ath regime anymore. The best that could be done would be the actualization of the Ben Ali or Qaddafi model. In other words, al-Assad could flee to another country and go through a process that would remind us a little of Saddam and a little of Qaddafi.
Any support offered to the Ba’ath regime now is meaningless. The exaggerated Russian analyses via the naval base at Tartus have become history with the bombing in Damascus. Russia now needs to give more thought to finding a way out of the hole it dug for itself with al-Assad than about what will become of al-Assad himself. The result of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin confirms this. The Geneva Accord indicates that there may not be a transition government as the opposition wished, but the transition will happen without al-Assad. This point was one thing the parties to the Geneva Accord agreed upon, and it was an important step, albeit small, which fired up an otherwise stagnant process. When this decision was made all of the important figures in the Ba’ath regime were alive. At this point, it seems as though al-Assad is definitely out of the picture, and there must be a transition government that comes closer to the demands of the opposition.
Russia is now about to pay the cost for its decision to invest in al-Assad -- a decision Russia has difficulty justifying even to itself. The most powerful weapon in Russia’s arsenal until Wednesday was its veto power on the UN Security Council. The Free Syrian Army rendered this weapon useless with the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday. Russia made it possible, along with al-Assad, for the opposition to take up arms, by standing with the Ba’athists in the first months of the massacres. It facilitated the forming of the Friends of the Syrian People group when it used the veto card. It turned the veto power into rhetoric for the Syrian resistance when it declared its intention to deadlock the Security Council. Now, at the last exit before the bridge, the Ba’athists will want to climb out of the hole. However, this last exit is blocked with the corpses of tens of thousands of innocent citizens al-Assad has massacred. Russia will be forced to turn around, letting both the bridge and the exit go. We now have an answer for the question we asked months ago: With its investments in Syria’s Ba’ath regime, does Russia want to withdraw from the Middle East?