Without Saudi Support, President Bashar al-Assad's Brutal Dictatorship in Syria Looks Doomed

(Telegraph-UK) Con Coughlin - The fall of the House of Assad in Syria is going to have the most profound and lasting impact of all the revolts that are currently challenging the established order of the Arab world. With Egypt currently preoccupied with its own political chaos, Saudi Arabia is generally held to be the pre-eminent power in the Arab world. In previous years, the Saudis have tended to turn a blind eye to the excesses of the Assad government. Even when, in 1996, Saudi intelligence discovered that the truck bomb that destroyed the U.S. military compound in Dharhan, killing 20 people, had been assembled in Damascus, there was no official act of censure. This time, though, the provocation has been too much - not least the endless video footage of innocent civilians being mown down by vengeful troops as Assad's minority Alawite clique seeks to prevent the Sunni Muslim majority from seizing power. Syria's long-standing alliance with Iran has been driven to a large extent by the fact that Tehran's Shia Muslim ayatollahs have been prepared to accept the legitimacy of Assad's Alawite cult, whereas most Sunnis regard the Alawites as heretics. The overthrow of the Alawites would remove the raison d'etre of Syria's alliance with Iran. In addition, a Sunni Muslim government in Damascus would be unlikely to provide the same level of unstinting support for Hizbullah. Without such backing, Hizbullah would no longer be able to terrorize Lebanon's political establishment. Indeed, there is no reason to suppose that a Sunni-led government in Damascus would not follow the example set by its neighbors in Jordan and Egypt and negotiate a lasting peace settlement with Israel. All the more reason, then, to hope that the campaign to drive the Assad regime from power is a resounding success.

2011-08-12 00:00:00

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