Sunday, March 26, 2006

Is a Grand Alliance Forming against Asad?

Khaddam planned defection since 2003, Bayanouni reports.

Khaddam told Bayanouni in 2003 that he was preparing to join the opposition; "he would join the opposition and announce this position when circumstances permitted." This was well before the Lahoud extension and Hariri killing, events that many believed drove Khaddam to defect. Khaddam has said that he was against Bashar succeeding Hafiz al-Asad in 2000, but was unable to stop it at the time for fear of destabilizing Syria. The big question is whether Khaddam began discussing ways to take power for himself in Syria with Jumblatt and Rafiq al-Hariri when Hafiz's health began failing in 1999.

Bashar al-Asad feared Khaddam was doing just that, which is why he determined to overturn the power structure in Lebanon and push Jumblatt and Hariri from power. It is also why he tried to sideline the Khaddam, Shihabi, and Kanaan triumvirate in Lebanon even before becoming President in 2000. Asad believed the triumvirate had turned against him and joined the Lebanese in a plan to block his efforts to succeed his father.

Khaddam will meet with Saad Hariri and Jumblatt in Paris later this month to find common ground between the new Khaddam-Muslim Brotherhood alliance and Lebanon's leading anti-Syrian politicians. This is powerful stuff. It sheds new light on Bayanouni's eagerness to attach Khaddam to the Brotherhood. It seems that Khaddam could promise the Muslim Brotherhood to bring in Hariri's Future Movement behind their efforts. If Hariri and Jumblatt endorse Bayanouni's opposition coalition, it will be hard for the US not to endorse it as well. Jumblatt met with Khaddam before and after traveling to Washington last month. Everyone speculated that he was acting as a messenger and advocate for Khaddam. It seems that Jumblatt's efforts are paying off. For Bayanouni and Khaddam, the road to Damascus may be through Beirut and then Washington. Word is that Western leaders have been invited to attend the meeting. We will have to see who turns up.

This explains why Bashar is cracking down on the Syrian opposition that has traveled to the West and why he is going after the entire Khaddam family. He is frightened that Washington is preparing a grand alliance. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are trying to slow down this polarization of the region, but their warnings may fall on deaf ears. If Hariri and Washington decide to back Bayanouni, Saudi and Egypt will be forced to choose sides, something they will find very difficult to do.


Leading Syrian dissidents belonging to the Rally for Syria group will hold talks with prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians, including Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri, in Paris later this month. Other high profile figures attending the talks include former Syrian deputy president Abdel Halim Khaddam - who has been living in Paris since falling out with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad - and Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

"Jumblatt, Hariri and Khaddam head the list of those invited," Rally for Syria co-ordinator, Fahd al-Agha al-Misri told Adnkronos International (AKI). Misri said that a number of Western political leaders have also been invited to participate in the discussions.


At 3/26/2006 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Landis, trust me Bashar is not worry. His excellency got all the amo and military force and the opposition have all the hot air they can muster.

He is more offended that oppositions will come to Washington and meet with Israel supporters [ Syria officially is at state of war with the Jewish State]. Even under U.S. laws such a meating will land you a hefty prosecution and jail time.

At 3/26/2006 11:56:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

several members of the BAATH party has decided in meeting in Halab, to support Khaddam, they have officers in the army,to back them, rumors of meeting of opposition in a place close to Damascus, has increase their contacts there.

At 3/27/2006 08:02:00 AM, Blogger Michael Young said...

This is a most interesting theory, but you haven't offered any evidence to sustain it. If Khaddam was believed by Bashar to be plotting with Hariri and Jumblatt, then why was he allowed to leave Syria after the Baath Party congress?

Nor do you really examine what would have happened had Bashar not extended Emile Lahoud's mandate. Do you think that such a plot would have gone through? I very much doubt it, as I very much doubt that Hariri and Jumblatt would have placed too many of their chips on Khaddam and Shihabi, who had no control over the Syrian security apparatus, where the true power lies. Your theory is unconvincing, but I find it interesting that it is one that I've heard from pro-Aoun people in Lebanon, for some reason. At least from this end it seems to be used to justify why Hariri was killed.

At 3/27/2006 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

The source of this is Ahrarsyria. A shady Islamic outfit. No Baathist in his right and sane
mind will Join Khaddam. Meeting in Aleppo with Baathist having contact with the army!!! AMAZING, majed knows about it, Ahrar knows about it, Khaddam know about it, the whole world knows about it, but Shawkat and 300,000 others in Syria that watch what you eat for breakfast don't. I believe that...sure, is that the line you pushing on the State to get some cash....learned that from Ghadry neocons tricks.

At 3/27/2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

I would buy this theory, since all past indications showed Assad had a strategic vision to keep Lebanon under the Syrian influences at any cost, and the regime pillars did see a great level of threats and challenges coming out of Lebanon. Assad had or given a choice between "Gahzi Kannan" and Khddam to be eliminated, to remove the looming threats.
Khaddam was a weak link and spineless flip-flop in the Syrian regime , so the powerfull Kannan got the X mark form the inner circle. They knew that Kaddam poses no real threat for Assad or the regime. The regime only threat is the inner circle itself.

At 3/27/2006 02:24:00 PM, Blogger Lebanese Pride said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/27/2006 02:34:00 PM, Blogger Lebanese Pride said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/27/2006 03:10:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/27/2006 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/27/2006 04:49:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

Dear Michael, Nothing justifies the killing of Hariri, we can both agree.

You are right that I cannot prove this theory, and do not claim such powers. What I am trying to do is figure out what happened. If Aoun people seek to use such speculation to justify Hariri’s murder, that is their doing. Surely, it is not a reason to stop asking what happened.

Bashar evidently got reports in 2000 that there was a plot afoot in Lebanon. That is what Syrian sources say. These sources could have manufactured this story in order to provide a rational for bringing down the old guard for various reasons. But it also may have an element of truth to it. What that element is remains murky, but it does seem that Bashar was acting on this belief.

Hariri people maintain that Rafiq remained loyal to Syria to the end. They blame Syrian Mukhabarat for manufacturing false and poisonous reports on Hariri and Jumblatt in order to separate them from Bashar and bring them down for nefarious, self-interested reasons, usually involving Makhlouf, Shawkat, Maher and money. Bashar was misled, they say. This is quite possible, even probable to a degree. It is also quite likely that there are no boyscouts here. Perhaps there was a shred of truth underneath the self-interested distortions, as is often the case.

We do know that Hariri tried to buy the loyalty of the triumvirate. That was his job. People around Bashar distrusted them and believed they had been bought by Hariri as early as 1997. Again, Nicholas Blanford has some very good quotes from Lebanon's foreign minister Boueiz and others on this in his forthcoming biography of Hariri, which I recommend everyone read.

Undoubtedly there was a real policy dispute lost somewhere in the clientalism and struggle for power. Hariri very well may have been dragged into this and may have tried to smooth it over by offering handsom sums of money to Bashar's new men. But this was not enough at some point.

Khaddam may have sought to enlist Hariri and Jumblatt in his inter-Syrian struggle. He was probably forced to. He was open about his desire to keep Bashar from taking power in his interview with Blanford. Bashar must have known this. Hariri too. Hariri may have been dragged along in all this. Nevertheless, once his Syria people were to be pushed aside, he would have had to get involved. Bashar didn’t want Hariri elected in 2000. Hariri won with help of Kanaan's election law, and because of his natural popularity. Bashar was powerless to stop him then. But he began to move out Kanaan and others and replace them with lesser stooges in order to undercut Hariri in the future. He was determined to overturn the Hariri train. To what extent Lahoud and others were driving this struggle, I don’t know. When, how and why the split between Hariri and Bashar to place is the story we are all trying to figure out. I believe it is intimately connected to power struggles in Damascus for control of the Damascus regime. There are still large chunks of this story we don't know, but we shouldn't be detered from trying to find out.

At 3/27/2006 08:06:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Is it posible that Bashar was leading the fight against coruption in the last few years of his father,s rule and that made Khaddam and Harreri and Shehabi and Kanaan worry about his rule so they tried to stop him then when they failed they wanted to punish him and Syria by forcing him out of Lebanon because he was not willing to play ball and share in robbing Lebanon and Syria as they did for 15 years.I wish the plot against Syria and Bashar is in the open which will make things clear and Syria can deffend itself with all means nessesary.then Syrians and Arabs will have to decide to stand either with clean Bashar or corupt Khaddam and his corrupt freinds Harreri and Jumblat.

At 3/27/2006 09:39:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Norman, bless your soul. I haven't laughed this hard in days! Blessed are the cretinous of the Earth.

At 3/27/2006 09:52:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

I don't have time to actually discuss this in depth, but there was one thing (among many) in Josh's thesis about Bashar "giving up Lebanon to win Damascus" that I found funny (so as not to use another description): the "giving up" Lebanon part!

Yeah, he "gave it up"! I mean, really...

Again, I find myself insisting that people read Gary Gambill's latest piece on Bashar.

I mean if one only collected the nonsense terminology used to polish up this two-bit thug: old guard, reformist instincts, "giving up" Lebanon, and the best of them all, and the latest arrival (hot off the charts): "a cyclical approach to reform has been a hallmark of his rule."

We have a winner!

At 3/27/2006 10:59:00 PM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

I do not know how old is J. Landis,but I am sure he is not m Young.

At 3/28/2006 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

Landis was born March 8, 1963. So he is in his 40's.

At 3/28/2006 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Atassi said...

Shocking New Evidence in Hariri Murder Inquest


At 3/28/2006 09:19:00 AM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“I find it interesting that it is one that I've heard from pro-Aoun people in Lebanon, for some reason. At least from this end it seems to be used to justify why Hariri was killed.” [Michael Young]

Yeah sure, I mean why listen to these stupid Aounists when you can get more “objective” info from the Daily Star’s Saudi paymasters??

The partisans of Michel Aoun are naturally “in cahoots with the Baathists” since they’re all just a bunch of “French-educated secularist thugs”...

Not mention the fact that the founder of the Baath party was also named Michel [Aflaq] and lived in exile in France throughout the 1980s’…sounds familiar?
The “investigative” journos at Future TV tell me that Michel Aflaq had a white Persian cat he used to caress manically while watching Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”!

Yes I know, Aflaq, Dr. No, Aoun, The Baath, Adolf Hitler, Syria, Persia, Terrorism!

The scales are finally falling off my eyes!

Mike, Tony,
How can we thank you for your razor-sharp cum powerfully enlightening insight??

At 3/28/2006 12:27:00 PM, Blogger souria el hora said...

the road to freedom have never been more clear. Syrian opposition was never that strong and united. GOD BLESS SYRIA


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