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apparent inconsistency in your views of Libya and Syria

Reader comment on item: Uncertain times in the Middle East

Submitted by Jeff (United States), Aug 21, 2011 at 16:05

Although I fully agree with you that Qadhdhafi is preferable to the Islamists in Libya, I also believe that Asad is preferable to the Islamists in Syria. There is no doubt that the MB in Syria is playing an increasing role in opposition activities in Syria, since as you well know it is a bitter longterm foe of the Ba'thists. But I don't see how an Islamist regime in Syrian could possibly be preferable to the Ba'thists. The Ba'thist-Iranian alliance is purely geopolitical, whereas a Syrian Islamist-Iranian alliance (assuming that the Islamists were so sectarian and hostile to the Shi'i that they would back away from that alliance, which seems highly doubtful) would be both geopolitical and ideological. Indeed, it could result in the formation of a more viable Sunni-Shi'i Islamist alliance against the West (and Israel).

Asad seems far more rational than any Islamist would be, so unlike you I am supporting Asad as well as Qadhdhafi against the Islamist elements of the opposition. I don't have any faith that the democratic elements of the opposition in those countries will prevail. Both of these leaders are terrible, but things can always be worse (as we learned when the Shah was overthrown.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I see Syria's strategic importance lying more in its Iranian alliance than anything the state does on its own. Assuming as I do that any post-Assad government will break the alliance with Tehran, I favor its fall.

I do not have similar calculations for Qaddafi.

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