By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
What if a third year passes and our hopes are dashed and Bashar Assad still remains the president in Damascus?
In such an event, we do not have many options but to apologize, retreat or pay a price for the wrong reading of the situation.
Although I was careful not to predict specific dates for his downfall, despite all the signs confirming that the Assad regime will not last long, the only expectation I had was that it could collapse toward the end of the second year.
This is the same conclusion that I had heard earlier from people more informed about the situation, such as Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese forces. He thought a year and a half ago, ever since the opposition gave up peaceful demonstrations, that the toppling of Assad is inevitable but will take about two years. He thought it correctly.
And those who are involved in Syrian affairs, both those who ran the opposition or funded them, say the regime is now cracking and falling into pieces and will definitely collapse by either January or February.
The delay in the downfall of the regime is not because of Assad’s valor or his forces’, even though the Syrian crisis is identical to the one in Libya. Major powers wished not to interfere for known reasons, taking into account Israel and its security levels, fears of a civil war, fears of militant groups that wreak havoc today in Libya and threaten Tunisia. This also includes President Barack Obama who tends to avoid any more foreign adventures. Let’s also not forget that the Iranians and the Russians threw all their unparalleled weight behind Assad.
With this, and despite the conspiracies against the Syrian revolution, the remainder of Assad’s time is quite short. The Syrians have increased their determination despite the brutal bombardments and massacres, which Assad’s regime resorted to with a strategy to instill fear in the minds of the ordinary civilians who stood up against the brutal regime.
Our new year will be decisive, and without Assad. But our region is still living with the risk of consequences of the revolutions of 2011. Egypt is still in the throes, threatened with a year pregnant with political and economic risks, should the Brotherhood not manage their governance well. They must abandon their project of domination, which they tried to implement too early, by seizing the judiciary, monopolizing the constitution and parliamentary assemblies and excluding their partners in the revolution.
Fabricating battles around the return of Egyptian Jews, or using Hamas to stir up dust and fabricating heroic acts will not benefit them.
The deterioration of the Egyptian pound is the greatest threat to the presidency of Muhammad Mursi than Israel and the opposition. And the year will not pass peacefully before the Brotherhood adheres to a real democratic system, that their president was sworn to respect.
Without it, Egypt will face an economic crisis and political chaos. We may see army tanks in Tahrir Square with a new revolution and the return of the military council to govern again.
Iran, on the other hand, is a puzzle difficult for us to solve. Because after the losses in Syria and the loss of half of its revenue from oil sales as a result of Western sanctions, Iran may have to call for a cease-fire whereby it freezes its nuclear program. And here will be a bigger problem for the Gulf states, which is facing a far greater threat with the Al-Maliki government in Iraq becoming a regime that explicitly works with and depends on Iran.