by Michael J. Totten
From Lebanon’s Naharnet:
Syrian President Bashar Assad has threatened to set the region on fire, from the Caspian to the Mediterranean, over differences with the United Nations regarding Lebanon’s stability.
The independent daily newspaper an-Nahar quoted well informed diplomatic circles as saying Assad made the threat last Wednesday in a telephone discussion with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The sources, according to the paper spoke of a “heated dialogue” between Assad and Ban, during which the Syrian President “threatened to set the region on fire, from the Caspian to the Mediterranean.”
The focus of the telephone discussion was creation of the international tribunal that will try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes, the report explained.
First Assad threatened to burn Lebanon. Now he’s threatening to burn the whole Middle East.
Assad truly believes a conviction against his regime in a United Nations tribunal will be the first step toward a UN-approved American-led regime-change in Syria. He has no idea that the American appetite for such an adventure is somewhere near zero, but he really is scared to death of it.
He would rather (at least threaten) to turn the region into a fireball than have his regime be accountable for murders in Lebanon under international law. Those who wish to negotiate with this man should take note.
UPDATE: See also Abu Kais, who has more time to think and write about this right now than I do.