DEBKAfile – which, for all its renowned erratic qualities, has better ears in Syria than any American publication I can think of – has some interesting commentary today on the forthcoming Baath Party convention beginning Monday in Damascus. It would be fantastic if one of the Syrian blogs could gives us a report (though it is more than slightly unlikely that they would admitted), because this promises to be a fascinating event in the ongoing history of fascist bloodletting. According to Debka:
The Baath convention looks like becoming a battleground for delegates’ accusations and counter-accusations over the responsibility for Syria’s debacle in Lebanon. Assad is expected to use this dispute and the political reform slogan as an opening for sacking two-thirds of the top level of the Baath party’s ruling institutions, including, according to rumors in Damascus, vice president Khalim Haddam.
The certainty has gained ground in Middle East capitals that US president George W. Bush has decided to wash his hands of Assad once and for all. Washington will not act directly to remove him; but neither will it refrain from indirect moves that contribute to his downfall. This conviction is reportedly the spur for Rif’at’s decision to be on hand to retain the Assad clan’s hand on the reins of power should they slip from his nephew’s grasp.
Rif’at is the brother of Bashar’s father – the late, unlamented Hafez Assad – and was exiled sixteen years for attempting to assassinate his brother. Nice class of people.