August 30, 2011
Politico has the video. It was pretty scary moment for Ambassador Ford who has shown a lot of guts traveling to cities where people are standing up to Assad’s guns despite furious protests from the foreign ministry.
The U.S. Ambassador to Syria – who has repeatedly demonstrated his support for anti-government protestors – was attacked in Damascus last week by a supporter of President Bashal al-Assad, a new video shows.
A video broadcast by Syrian television pictures pro-Assad protestors following Ambassador Robert Ford and chanting slogans. One protestor then approaches Ford from behind and tries to wrap him in a poster featuring a picture of the Syrian president.
Ford’s security team, which was already rushing him to a waiting car, pushed the Ambassador into the vehicle.
Tensions have been heating up between the Syria and the United States over the last several months.
“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led,” Obama said in a statement released two weeks ago. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
And an interesting article in The Atlantic about how Assad might be toppled:
There have been numerous other reports about defections in the Army (from Reuters, for example) but it is difficult to assess whether they have yet reached a significant size. If the demonstrations grow, I assume the numbers of defectors will grow as Sunni troops refuse to shoot peaceful and unarmed Sunni demonstrators.
But there is another possibility, that the Alawite “Establishment,” civilian and military, will remove Bashar from power in a kind of “palace coup.” This would only happen, I believe, if the economic and financial sanctions grow stronger and stronger and demonstrations continue. Removing Bashar might then appear to the Alawite generals and “business leaders” (i.e., Assad cronies) as the only way to settle things down and end the rebellion. They could call for some sort of government of national salvation, schedule elections, denounce Bashar, and send a new foreign minister to negotiate an end to the sanctions.
I doubt the demonstrators would accept such a cosmetic change, and we should reject it as well. It would mean the regime is beginning to collapse, and it would be very much in the interest of the United States for it to collapse entirely. We should not rescue it, nor any remnant of it.
There are several other possibilities, but I think the most likely scenario is a revolt by Sunni army units who begin to stand between Assad’s Alawites and the people, forcing a bloody confrontation that the Alawites can’t win, being outnumberd 8-1 in the population. Perhaps the endgame would involve Assad negotiating a way out of the country, possibily to Iran.
When it might happen is unknown, but the protests show no sign of diminishing.