World View: Syria Bombing Strikes Stunning Blow at Bashar al-Assad
This morning's key headlines from
- Bombing in Damascus Syria kills much of Assad's inner circle
- Another Syrian general, more army officers defect to Turkey
- Damascus bombing strikes stunning blow at al-Assad's Sunni Arab extermination program
- David Bloom at HSBC - Hoping for a catastrophe
Bombing in Damascus Syria kills much of Assad's inner circle
Even Bashar al-Assad's own sister, Bushra, lost her husband on
Wednesday in a massive explosion that killed much of al-Assad's
inner circle, including al-Assad's Defense Minister and
several other high-level government officials. The rebel
Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, but
it's thought that the perpetrator must have been a close insider,
possibly a bodyguard who was supposed to be protecting the inner circle.
According to one analyst:
General Fahad Jassim al-Freij, Syria's new Defense Minister, on state TV on Wednesday (SANA)
"The fact that [the attack] happened near where the
president lives is significant. It seems it is a very serious
explosion and we are not sure if it’s a suicide bomber in a car,
or if it’s one of the bodyguards, or one of the insiders who blew
himself up as a high-level meeting was taking place with a number
of ministers and high level security official attending
As of Thursday morning, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has not been
since the attack, though it's not believed that he was a casualty.
Al Jazeera and
Another Syrian general, more army officers defect to Turkey
246 Syrians, including a general, five colonels, four majors, two
captains, one lieutenant, soldiers and their families defected and
fled to Turkey on Wednesday. Most of the civilians were women and
children, and were sent to refugee camps.
Damascus bombing strikes stunning blow at al-Assad's Sunni Arab extermination program
It's been quite a spectacle. For the past 16 months, more and more
Syrians have turned against the government. President Bashar
al-Assad has responded with more and more violence with bigger
and more deadly weapons, but it's always backfired. There have been
many defections from al-Assad's regime, but they've mostly
been Sunnis who were sick of seeing innocent citizens slaughtered.
But now we might expect to see more defections who simply want
to desert a sinking ship. Al-Assad's regime has become more
isolated within Syria, as shown dramatically by Wednesday's
But he's also become more isolated internationally. Russia is
increasingly embarrassed by being joined at the hip with a man who
seems to grow stupider every day. Iran and Hizbollah embarrassed to
be supporting al-Assad, of course, since they rather enjoy seeing him
exterminate Sunnis. But they're embarrassed by the fact that no
matter how much help they give him, he's still losing control, which
makes them lose credibility.
It's pretty clear now to everyone (except perhaps al-Assad himself)
that he will not be able to crush the opposition, which is what his
father Hafez did in 1982. But 1982 was a generational Crisis era, and
today is a generational Awakening era for Syria, and the rules are
different, although al-Assad himself seems oblivious to that fact.
It's widely thought that al-Assad is a wounded animal who will attempt
to strike back at the opposition with a new level of violence in order
to "prove" that he's still in control. But what will he do after that
fails? Wednesday's bombing was so devastating that al-Assad has lost
almost all credibility, and is now looks weak and pathetic.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that Syria's war
is "spinning out of control," but that's not true. Syria is in a
generational Awakening era, so "spinning out of control" is not an
option. If he's careful, al-Assad might be able to hang on to power
for a while longer, but it's more likely that he's going to be
careless because he's desperate. And when he makes another careless
mistake or two, even he may decide that the time has come to flee to
Tehran or Moscow with his super-hot wife Asma, and enjoy the good
life, and let the civil war fizzle.
Globe and Mail
David Bloom at HSBC - Hoping for a catastrophe
It's only been
a couple of days since HSBC Holdings admitted to criminal activity
(see "18-Jul-12 World View -- HSBC Holdings admits to criminal money-laundering").
So it was surprising to see David Bloom, global head of currency
strategy at HSBC Holdings, on television on Wednesday morning
explaining why investors were hoping for a catastrophe. I've been
writing about this "bad news is good new" phenomenon since 2007, but
Bloom said it better than I have. He spoke in a tongue-in-cheek
manner, but his remarks were an entirely accurate reflection of Wall
Street attitudes, and another illustration of how disconnected Wall
Street is from reality:
"What we want is not bad news but terrible news,
because terrible news means that the Federal Reserve does more QE
(Quantitative Easing), and the more QE we have, the more of the
drug we have in financial markets to prop us up.
So the markets aren't happy because things are, as you describe,
slowing down. They want them to be a little more disastrous, so
they can get better. That sounds ironic and strange, but that's
just how the markets are working at the moment.
And the reason that people are so hopeful is that there's a U.S.
election coming up, and they're worried that the Fed doesn't want
to be political, so they'll act sooner rather than later.
[Q: You're right about the markets - everybody wants more QE.
But there are questions out there about the previous rounds of QE
or fiscal packages, whether they worked or not. In fact, another
expert once said that if it was a drug, then the FDA would
actually make it illegal.]
Yeah, but the thing about a drug is that you never want one less,
you always want more, and more just gives you the same, it doesn't
give you a higher high. And so the markets are just fixated on
this. We got from the bank of England what we wanted 37:28 -- we
saw today there was a 7-2 vote for billions more. And we want the
same from the Fed. So we've had the ECB cutting rates to zero,
China cutting rates, the Bank of England stepping in, we want the
Fed, we want the big boy in town to start printing as well.
That's what the markets are desperate for."
And so, Dear Reader, I know how patriotic you are, so I want you to do
your part. Go lose your home and your job and your savings, and go
live under a bridge, so that the economy can get well again. It's
your patriotic duty!
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