I was on the phone with someone who knows the Assad family personally and apparently intimately. The person happens to be from Latakiya, an important town located on the coast of the Mediterranean. I have personally met this person before through my work in the Reform Party of Syria.
This person told me fascinating things about Baschar al-Assad that did not occur to me previously within the context of the mind capacity and psychological disposition of both brothers to differentiate between right from wrong or fake from real. The person said that in order to understand Baschar and Maher al-Assad, we must understand the mysterious death that took the life of Majd, their brother.
My mind raced to those eras in the fifties and sixties when the Cold War forced Soviet experimental tests on people to invent a super soldier. Slow down, the person said, I am talking about a natural birth of a healthy person physically but who in reality has inherited some deformed DNA that made him sick mentally. The person added that it was no secret to those who know both brothers intimately to also know they are imbalanced individuals without any anchor in the real world around them; as were their two dead brothers Bassel and Majd.
I objected by citing clever political maneuvers and cunning tactics the regime is known for. The person responded that this is mostly the work of one man named Abu Wael aka Mohammad Nasif Kheirbek.
What it all means, I said.
It means America must face Assad with more than just a slap, my contact responded, because Baschar and Maher will avenge the attack one way or another through terror. The US must not simply send 20 Tomahawks in few hours to destroy buildings long evacuated; the US must sustain a rain of Tomahawks over a long period against known military assets unmanned but by the few or else not attack at all.
My answer was no one knows for sure what will happen, but the likeliest of scenarios is a small window with a short list of targets. My caller then said, “Don’t do it then”.
I said are you not concerned about the Islamists and the Salafis. The person responded with something like “of course we are, but we will take our chances when the war stops”. I said the Islamists will never let you live, the person responded “for sure, but if the international community can protect us, we will find a solution. Syria cannot continue like this” again, not verbatim.
The person belongs to a minority community living just outside Latakiya. It was the first time I learned that he knows Baschar personally and it did not surprise me because their age difference is negligible and the prominence of that person’s family makes it even more likely they would be close to Assad. For someone of such prominence to open their hearts on the state of mind of the leader they trust to protect them from harm says a lot about the shrinking support Assad may be facing from the inner layers of his close circle.
The rest of the conversation was spent discussing Saudi Arabia whom this person feared more than any other country. I asked why the worry since Bandar bin Sultan, a known liberal without malice towards the minorities, has a major role to play in Syria’s future now. The person responded by saying that the ideology of Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab, short for Wahabbism, existing in Saudi Arabia since the early 18th century will eventually prevail in Syria. Bandar will not modify that ideology Saudi Arabia has lived by its principles for almost 300 years. I had no good answer for the person’s logic.
I concluded from this conversation that if a pro-Assad Syrian is asking an anti-Assad regime Syrian like myself for a tough response against Assad, it means the minorities want badly to abandon Assad.
Before bombing Syria, what the Obama Administration needs to do is send a signal to the Minorities that it watches over their back. At the end, if the community begins flipping, all sides may just find the solution to Syria’s problems is at hand. However, the Minorities will not flip without guaranteed assurances from the man with the cruise missiles they know he is as liberal as they are.