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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Will Obama Save Assad?

In a Washington Post article entitled "Assad’s hold on power looks shakier than ever as rebels advance in Syria," Liz Sly writes:

"A surge of rebel gains in Syria is overturning long-held assumptions about the durability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which now appears in greater peril than at any time in the past three years.

. . . .

The revival of rebel fortunes is attributed to a large degree on the recent rapprochement between a newly assertive Saudi Arabia and its erstwhile rivals for influence over the rebels — Turkey and Qatar.

. . . .

Much will depend on Iran, which has stepped up in the past to dispatch men, money and arms whenever Assad seemed to be faltering. But Iran is stretched, too, by the economic effects of continued international sanctions and by the competing demands of the war next door in Iraq, which has diverted some of the Iraqi Shiite militias that had been fighting for the regime in Syria."

Indeed, much will depend upon Iran, whose finances are stretched by sanctions and the decline in the price of oil. As such, Assad's survival hinges upon whether or not Obama frees up some $50 billion of frozen Iranian bank accounts as a signing bonus to Khamenei for reaching a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 by the June 30 deadline.

Once Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by Assad was a "red line." Today, it seems increasing likely that Obama will become Assad's savior, notwithstanding Assad's past use of sarin and ongoing use of chlorine against civilians.

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