Syrian president Bashar Assad is trying to turn his back on the fiasco of his exit from Lebanon and shore up his regime by a secret crash reform program – although one that is careful not to put the presidency on the block.
Stage one took place in total hush Saturday, April 9.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive Middle East sources report that Assad wants his epic political and military revolution to be over and done in three months, unlike the Baath revolutions in Iraq and Syria which dragged on through the 1960s and 1970s.
This is a very tall order as well as a dangerous gamble, considering that Assad is proposing to roll back four decades of Syrian history by June and transform his Baath from a Marxist-socialist ideological movement to a rejuvenated, pragmatic ruling party.
Despite the heavy secrecy imposed on this radical program, a storm of opposition will be hard to avoid. It could go as far as a bid for his ouster.
He proposes to sever the reciprocal lifeline between army and party and shut down the movement’s pan-Arab center, so withdrawing the mother party’s support from the many Baath branches around the Arab world, especially in Lebanon and Jordan. He even seeks to rewrite the national constitution and introduce an open market economy.
But since he grasped Lebanon was a write-off, Assad is quoted by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources as dropping to confidants such remarks as: “I don’t want to see foreign troops in Syria forcing us to accept the sort of reforms imposed on Iraq. We can carry out those reforms on our own.” This tone recalls Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi’s vein in 2003 after he was reconciled to meeting the Bush administration’s demands and ceding his nuclear option and weapons of mass destruction programs.
Naturally this is unsubstantiated, and even if true, he may still fail as his opposition will be quite formidable, but either way, a regime change (Baath or Assad) appears on the horizon. Interesting.