Joshua Landis writes:
“Bashar al-Assad is not indispensable and the United States has no interest in his regime staying in power,” US Secretary of State Hillary stated on Monday after Syrian crowds pelted the Damascus Embassy with stones, calling Ambassador Ford a “dog.”
While Clinton turned up the rhetorical head a notch, President Assad must taken satisfaction in the dust up with the great conspirator. From the outset of the uprising four months ago, the Syrian regime has been accusing Washington of orchestrating its troubles. According to reports from Syria, the pro-regime public has been galvanized by Ambassador Fords actions in Hama. They see it a proof that the US is acting as the puppeteer and takes an active role in the uprising. His trip to Hama to demonstrate US support for the demonstrations was the sort of provocation, Damascus authorities had been waiting for. Now it is a US-Syrian confrontation. World news programs have ramped up their coverage that had been flagging. I cannot tell you how many calls I received today compared to the last week of comparative quiet.
What is unclear is whether the Syrian opposition will gain from this controversy. Will the increased international news coverage and augmented US role in this Syrian drama prove to be a boon for the opposition? Will it make up for any damage the opposition suffers from local accusations that it is but a spearhead of a vast imperialist-Zionist conspiracy?
Certainly, Ford’s credibility is restored in Washington. Even Republicans will have to laud him as a local hero. Only yesterday they branded him an Assad propaganda tool. The State Department will also look good. But are these antics helping the Syrian opposition or Assad?