Saturday, June 8, 2013

Qusair Means a Longer, Bloodier Road Ahead

Rami Khouri, spot-on as ever, makes it clear that the Assad regime's retaking of Qusair means that both Syria and Lebanon face an even longer, bloodier road ahead - if "ahead" is even an appropriate adverb in this context:

As Syria and its battles rekindle old tensions and create new ones, Hezbollah reflects the dramatic and dangerous new directions in which many Middle Eastern actors navigate through crumbling edifices of Euro-manufactured statehood, battle each other for survival, and cling to older, indigenous identities of sectarianism, ethnicity, tribalism and other sub-national configurations.

One day, they will all have to manage the hard task of rebuilding credible, secure and legitimate states. But that day is down the road.

Now is the time to fight, it seems, and Qusair was only a hint of the stupidity and waste that lies ahead.


Khouri also spotlights, however, that Assad was able to reclaim Qusair, and this apparent victory, only because Hezbollah came to his aid, in force, and because he had the military support of Iran and Russia as well as Russia running interference for him in the UN Security Council.  This suggests strongly that Assad's days are indeed numbered, but that the number of days just got higher.

All of which spells ever more death, devastation, and misery for the people of Syria . . . and, I should think, Lebanon.  There have already been strikes against Hezbollah targets in Beirut itself.  With Hezbollah so obviously sided with Assad, it now seems only a matter of time before Sunni-salafist militants, both regional and jihadist, turn their attention to Lebanon.  And, of course, they already have Iraq squarely in their crosshairs.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, sits with his "Do Not Pass Go" card clenched in his fingers.  And although the ascension of Samantha Power to become the US rep at the  UN puts a striking - and strikingly R2P - face on the US presence there, she likely will amount to little more than window dressing for an administration that will speak eloquently of universal human rights and self-determination, but restrain itself to little more than jaw-jaw as the wider Middle East swirls the bowl.

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