Posted by Ehsani on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
James Baker, Former Secretary of State appeared on the Charlie Rose Show last night. His comments on Syria start on the 16-minute mark. Mr. Baker is always worth listening to. Set below are some quotes from the interview:
“I am not a big fan of what we did in Libya even though I am glad to see Gaddafi gone. We don’t know who these people are, the Free Syrian Army and all those people. Syria is a whole lot of a different case than Libya. We need to proceed very cautiously. We are broke. We don’t need another major engagement that we cannot fund. Assad has lost legitimacy. You can’t murder your own people and expect to survive for very long and when he goes, and my view ultimately he will go. That is not all that bad for us from the standpoint of the situation with Iran. “
Ousting Syria’s Assad through a ‘soft landing – By David Ignatius
“Maybe it’s time for Syrian revolutionaries to take “yes” for an answer from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back a U.N.-sponsored “managed transition” of power there, rather than rolling on toward a civil war that will bring more death and destruction for the region.
We should learn from recent Middle East history and seek a non-military solution in Syria — even with the inevitable fuzziness and need for compromise with unpleasant people.
The alternative to a diplomatic soft landing is a war that shatters the ethnic mosaic in Syria. It’s easy to imagine Sunni militias gaining control of central cities such as Homs, Hama and Idlib, while Alawites retreat to parts of Damascus and Latakia province in the north. Assad might still claim to be president in this scenario, but he would be little more than a warlord (albeit one with access to chemical weapons). It’s a grim scenario in which Western air power would have limited effect.”
To create jobs for their young populations, Arab economies need to integrate, according to an Oxford University study published in December by Adeel Malik and Bassem Awadallah, a former Jordanian finance minister. It highlights restrictions on the movement of investment, goods and people across borders.
The result, in an Arab world with a population of 350 million, is “insignificant” levels of internal trade and regional markets that are “cut off from each other and from the rest of the world,” they wrote. It can be cheaper for a Jordanian company to import from the U.K. than from nearby Lebanon, while “visa requirements for traveling within the region can sometimes be as cumbersome as the journey itself.
Whoever takes office will have to win back people like Mohammed, Ahmed and the others camped outside the Libyan Embassy trying to flee Egypt. Poverty and unemployment have clouded their view of the revolution they supported.
“There is no change,” said Mohammed. “We want to feel that we have rights in our own country. Who feels that way?” he asked, looking at the men gathered around him. Most replied: “No one!”
Threat to Assad remains despite claims of victory – Financial Times
Bashar al-Assad is acting victorious, marching under the gaze of state television crews into the ruins of the Baba Amr district of Homs, the city bombarded by his forces for nearly a month. In TV footage this week, the Syrian leader is seen surrounded by loyalists described as residents, though most of the inhabitants have fled. He blames his enemies for the devastation and promises to rebuild Baba Amr.
Mr Assad’s tour was another grotesque show of force aimed at humiliating the rebellious people of the district, who faced collective punishment for allowing Free Syrian Army fighters to protect them. It was also a manifestation of a renewed self-confidence following the regime’s seizure of a series of strongholds that had fallen under rebel control and brought the armed opposition dangerously close to the gates of Damascus.
The problem for Mr Assad, however, is that the Annan plan gives no relief from the most dangerous threat he faces. That threat has never been from the armed rebels but from the peaceful demonstrators who continue to stage protests more than a year after the eruption of the revolt. “As soon as a ceasefire takes hold, Bashar falls because the people will be on the streets in millions, even in Damascus,” says Samir Seifan, a Syrian economist who has joined the opposition. “There will be no need for the FSA whose members know that demonstrations are what will bring down the regime.” Mr Assad, insists Mr Seifan, can score military gains but he cannot win the war against the popular uprising.