On Dec. 29, I read an article in the New York Times about the isolation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inside his palace and the way he moves from one bedroom to another and how he has his food examined before he eats it for fear it could be poisoned.
He might even be living in more than one place. In short, he lives moments of pure fear. This seems like an incredible story, but it is not new. This is the story of every dictator who insists on fighting till the last moment and until the entire tragedy unfolds. The man is actually left with no more than two governorates. Russians are starting abandon him and Alawites might do that soon.
However, it is no longer about Bashar al-Assad, but rather about Syria and the entire Levant that is about to undergo the most critical geographical transformation since the Sykes-Picot agreement that established a regime which survived for almost 90 years. It is expected that the change in Syria will be similar to that in other Arab Spring countries even though individual differences exist like in the cases of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. However, at the end of the day the word “Islamist” could describe this change and the new emerging systems of governance in those countries.
[The conflict] is no longer about Bashar al-Assad, but rather about Syria and the entire Levant that is about to undergo the most critical geographical transformationAbdel Monem Said
The Levant is different, though. It is not a coincidence that despite all the drawbacks of Sykes-Picot, it survived for a long time and created a whole set of balances of power in the region. When Nasser in Egypt and the Baath Part in Syria tried to take a different track through the declaration of unity, they failed to sustain this new formula. Syria and Iraq had also tried and failed in implementing a similar plan. The Levant has always been liable to disintegration and had only been kept intact by the iron grip of dictatorial regimes. The condition of the Levant following the First World War was similar to that of Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and Yugoslavia, let alone other smaller disintegration like Czechoslovakia. The end will not be necessarily tragic even though this more likely, especially that Arab history is not replete with example of amicable separation.