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Damascus without al-Assad and Cairo’s fears - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What if our hopes our disappointed and a third year passes with Bashar al-Assad still clinging on to power in Damascus?

At this point we would have no other choice but to apologize, stop writing, or pay the price for our mistaken analysis of the situation. Although I am being careful not to predict particular dates for al-Assad’s fall, all information confirms that his regime cannot last long, and the only predication that I am comfortable making is that he will fall by the end of the second year of the Syrian revolution. This is the same conclusion that I have previously heard from well-informed figures such as Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who made a similar predication more than 18 months ago, namely since the Syrian opposition gave up peaceful protests. At this point, he said that the regime’s collapse was guaranteed but that it would take two years, and this predication still holds.

All those preoccupied with the Syrian file, including those who are managing and funding the opposition, are saying that the al-Assad regime is worn-out and faltering and that it will most likely collapse in January or February of this year. The al-Assad regime has prolonged its life not due to the valour of al-Assad or his forces but because the superpowers took the decision not to intervene, as they did in Libya. They took this decision for plausible reasons, including Israeli national security, fear of the outbreak of a civil war, fear of the spread of jihadist groups; particularly as such groups are now running amok in Libya and threatening Tunisia. In addition to this, there is also the character of President Barack Obama who prefers to avoid becoming embroiled in foreign military adventures. We must also not forget that the Iranians and Russians have thrown their weight behind al-Assad in an unprecedented manner. Despite all this and the conspiracies against the Syrian revolution, the al-Assad’s regime’s life is quickly running out. This is because the Syrians people’s determination did not weaken in the face of barbaric shelling and massacres; which was al-Assad’s strategy to intimidate and silence his people.

The forthcoming year will be a crucial one, without al-Assad. However our region will continue to witness the dangerous repercussions of the 2011 revolutions. Egypt is still in the throes of childbirth, threatened by a year full of political and economic dangers if the Brotherhood fail to govern the country correctly and drop their hegemony project, which they began to implement early on when they monopolized the constitutional drafting process, seized control of the judiciary and excluded their revolutionary partners. They will not help themselves by cooking up battles over the return of Egyptian Jews or exploiting Hamas to stir up trouble in order to create heroes. The weakening of the Egyptian Pound is the greatest threat to Mohamed Mursi’s presidency; greater than Israel and the opposition. The year will not pass peacefully unless the Brotherhood accept a genuine democratic system, as President Mursi previously pledged to do. Without this, Egypt will find itself facing economic threats and political turmoil. We could even see tanks returning to Tahrir Square following a new revolution, with a military council returning to power once more!

Iran is a difficult puzzle to resolve. After losing Syria, as well as losing half of its oil revenue as a result of Western sanctions, Tehran may be obliged to agree to a truce and the freezing of its nuclear program. Even if this were to happen, Gulf States are still facing numerous threats, particularly with the al-Maliki government in Iraq explicitly falling under Iran’s sway.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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