Tag Archives: Syria

Assad for President… of Pakistan

It may be difficult to find the formula necessary to provide the Syrian people the political freedoms they crave, while also giving social minorities the reassurance they need to avoid ethnic and sectarian civil war, but a quick departure of the Assads is a necessary component of any solution. Surely Bashar would refuse the ignominy of a forced retreat to a gilded prison in a foreign country; but Pakistan could offer him the perfect face-saving solution while saving itself in the bargain: Pakistan should offer to make Bashar its president.

Oh, the unimaginative might be inclined to dismiss this idea out of hand, but its logic is compelling. With a single stroke, it would solve many of Syria’s problems, while simultaneously providing a key to the solution of South Asia’s most pressing and intractable difficulties.

This idea was put forth by Robert Grenier, a retired, 27 year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service and the former director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004-2006. This will be dismissed not just by the unimaginative, but also by the realistic. Perhaps it’s really just a thought-provoking essay. Regardless, I wonder if ideas like this were/are shared among the intelligence services. I doubt it, but would love to know the reactions if this had been floated in an internal memo.

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Filed under AfPak, Foreign Policy, Middle East

What is Mahmoud thinking?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said he intends to release two American journalists accused of, and jailed for, espionage and grant them a “unilateral pardon.” There was certainly no evidence of espionage, but in Iranian courts no evidence is needed. They could have been kept much longer, but Mahmoud possibly made this gesture – this “unilateral humanitarian gesture,” as he put it – to curry some favor amidst the growing international pressure being put on Iran. If so, it is the same reason the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, called on Syria to recognize the “legitimate” demands of the protestors. As the NY Times recently reported,

The United States and some European nations have called on Mr. Assad to step down and are trying to tighten sanctions against the Syrian government and individual people and groups seen to be aiding it. That has affected Iran, as well; in the past week, the European Union announced that it was putting sanctions on the secretive Al Quds wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, saying it was providing technical and material support for Syria’s crackdown on demonstrators.

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