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ASSAD: Altzheimers? Dementia?
Israel & U.S. Desperate to get Assad's
Signature on "Peace Treaty" before its too late
MER - WASHINGTON - 6 March 2000:
Hafez el-Assad, long-time President and dictator in Syria, is already fading
and no longer fully in control of his faculties. This is the real reason the
U.S. and Israel are desperately trying to get Assad to sign a "peace treaty"
and willing to pay him billions as well as return the Golan Heights to Syrian
There is a serious desperation in both Washington and Jerusalem that
the time to consolidate American-Israeli control of the region by bringing
Syrian into the fold; and that if this opportunity is not seized it might not
be possible to get such a deal with Syria in the future and other anti-
American forces might grow to oppose this "pax-Americana pax-Israelica".
Israel's leading newspaper, Ha'aretz, has in fact now publicly published
extremely important story, without of course providing all the details or
analysis. Even so, some of what the U.S. and Israeli governments have been
for some time keeping quiet is now beginning to seep out. There is in fact
a recent CIA report - put together after exhaustive intelligence
accumulation - which concludes that Assad suffers from what is being called
"intermittent dementia", a condition characterized by a deterioration of
mental faculties and emotional apathy. It's also possible the condition
could be the early stages of the same mentally crippling mental disease
that has incapacitated former American President Ronald Reagan, altzheimers
Assad is 69 and is said to no longer think logically or clearly at all
He also appears to be driven by an obsession to hand over power to his son
Bashar even though there is considerable doubt Bashar can effectively govern
Syria and even though Assad's efforts are said to be undermining his own
base of support. The overall conclusion is that Assad has no more than
three years to live and is likely to stop functioning rationally, and maybe
physically, long before that.
Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to Washington and former
chief negotiator with the Syrians, who now heads Tel Aviv University, has
revealed the conclusion reached by many in Israel. "If the current
circumstances are not exploited we could get stuck for several years."
This is diplomatic language for, its vital for Israel and the U.S. that we
find someway to get Assad to sign a "peace treaty", even at a very high
price. Also according to Rabinovich's careful public comments, "There is
no assurance that Bashar will be able to succeed his father."
According to the Ha'aretz story, Israeli military intelligence believes
are those close to Assad who very much now favor a peace deal with Israel and
are pushing the Americans to hurry their efforts, before Assad totally fades
and is unable to do the deed in a credible way. It is believed that while
others who succeed Assad might not be able to publicly sign such a "peace
treaty", that if one is signed there is a good chance it will be honored by
Assad's successors in view of the terrible problems Syria faces economically
and the deterioration of the Syrian armed forces.
This is of course the model followed with Anwar Sadat and Egypt, as
why the more recent "Peace Treaty" with Jordan was rushed through while
King Hussein of Jordan remained alive to do it. Also, of course, this overall
strategy of using dying and malleable "leaders" is why the Israelis chose to
anoint Yasser Arafat and his largely destroyed PLO to the status of
Also according to the Ha'aretz story, U.S. intelligence believes that
decision to agree to the American peacemaking push is based on his need for
billions of dollars in U.S. and European aid to prop up the collapsing Syrian
economy; and that Assad further believes the money and intelligence help
might essentially buy his son Bashar the necessary support to take and
consolidate power in Damascus.
While all of these other machinations are taking place, Assad and those
pushing for his son to succeed him have been purging the Syrian leadership of
any potential rivals, including General Ali Duba, the head of Syrian
intelligence. Even so, at the same time, Assad has allowed Hezbullah to
escalate attacks against Israeli forces in Lebanon in order to confuse his
rivals and temporarily appease Iran and Palestinian groups.
Meanwhile, Assad may be preparing to name a new Syrian government in
anticipation of a desperate push by all parties to put together a "historic
peace" whose underlying motivations, timing, and substance, are far more
complicated and personal than will ever be publicly acknowledged.
At the same time Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been doing his
desperately maneuvering in Israel to build support for such a peace deal with
Assad, and President Clinton in Washington is expending considerable effort to
try to line up Congressional support for an "American contribution" to such a
"historic peace" that could come close to $100 billion in all kinds of
economic, military and intelligence "assistance" to the parties, along with
many under-the-table deals and enhancements which will be shrouded in secrecy
and classified for "national security" reasons.
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