Austin Bay

Videos of the protests, taken by Syrian activists, are cropping up on the Internet. New media may have given Bashar's regime pause. Bashar is clearly not repeating Moammar Gadhafi's mistake of threatening the mass murder of dissidents. Bashar claims he will lift Syria's state of emergency. It has been in effect since 1963 -- again, like father, like son.

Bashar, however, balances the carrot with a stick. In exchange for ending the permanent emergency, he says demonstrators must cease and desist. He has almost accused Israel and U.S. of stirring the unrest. recently reported that "Iran is apparently helping out, with security experts who have recent practice in suppressing public demonstrations ..." StrategyPage indicated the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah gunmen provide Syria with "some dependable muscle against anti-Assad crowds."

Bashar al-Assad is likely pursuing a strategy of quiet strangulation instead of massacre -- so here the son differs from father in method, though not in goal. He will buy time to strangle his people by threatening to ignite civil war in Lebanon or war against Israel -- two of his father's favorite tactics.

Meanwhile, Vogue tells us Asma recently visited Paris "to discuss her alliance" with the Louvre Museum. A museum? Her husband's vicious regime ought to be tossed into the dustbin of history.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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