World View: Syria Bombing Strikes Stunning Blow at Bashar al-Assad

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

General Fahad Jassim al-Freij, Syria's new Defense Minister, on state TV on Wednesday (SANA)
General Fahad Jassim al-Freij, Syria’s new Defense Minister, on state TV on Wednesday (SANA)

Even Bashar al-Assad’s own sister, Bushra, lost her husband onWednesday in a massive explosion that killed much of al-Assad’sinner circle, including al-Assad’s Defense Minister andseveral other high-level government officials. The rebelFree Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, butit’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:

“The fact that [the attack] happened near where thepresident lives is significant. It seems it is a very seriousexplosion 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 blewhimself up as a high-level meeting was taking place with a numberof ministers and high level security official attendingit.”

As of Thursday morning, Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has not beensince the attack, though it’s not believed that he was a casualty.Al Jazeera and Reuters

Another Syrian general, more army officers defect to Turkey

246 Syrians, including a general, five colonels, four majors, twocaptains, one lieutenant, soldiers and their families defected andfled to Turkey on Wednesday. Most of the civilians were women andchildren, and were sent to refugee camps. Zaman (Istanbul)

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 moreSyrians have turned against the government. President Basharal-Assad has responded with more and more violence with biggerand more deadly weapons, but it’s always backfired. There have beenmany defections from al-Assad’s regime, but they’ve mostlybeen Sunnis who were sick of seeing innocent citizens slaughtered.But now we might expect to see more defections who simply wantto desert a sinking ship. Al-Assad’s regime has become moreisolated within Syria, as shown dramatically by Wednesday’sbombings.

But he’s also become more isolated internationally. Russia isincreasingly embarrassed by being joined at the hip with a man whoseems to grow stupider every day. Iran and Hizbollah embarrassed tobe supporting al-Assad, of course, since they rather enjoy seeing himexterminate Sunnis. But they’re embarrassed by the fact that nomatter how much help they give him, he’s still losing control, whichmakes 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 hisfather Hafez did in 1982. But 1982 was a generational Crisis era, andtoday is a generational Awakening era for Syria, and the rules aredifferent, although al-Assad himself seems oblivious to that fact.

It’s widely thought that al-Assad is a wounded animal who will attemptto strike back at the opposition with a new level of violence in orderto “prove” that he’s still in control. But what will he do after thatfails? Wednesday’s bombing was so devastating that al-Assad has lostalmost all credibility, and is now looks weak and pathetic.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that Syria’s waris “spinning out of control,” but that’s not true. Syria is in agenerational Awakening era, so “spinning out of control” is not anoption. If he’s careful, al-Assad might be able to hang on to powerfor a while longer, but it’s more likely that he’s going to becareless because he’s desperate. And when he makes another carelessmistake or two, even he may decide that the time has come to flee toTehran or Moscow with his super-hot wife Asma, and enjoy the goodlife, and let the civil war fizzle. Globe and Mail

David Bloom at HSBC – Hoping for a catastrophe

David Bloom
David Bloom

It’s only beena 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 currencystrategy at HSBC Holdings, on television on Wednesday morningexplaining why investors were hoping for a catastrophe. I’ve beenwriting about this “bad news is good new” phenomenon since 2007, butBloom said it better than I have. He spoke in a tongue-in-cheekmanner, but his remarks were an entirely accurate reflection of WallStreet attitudes, and another illustration of how disconnected WallStreet 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 thedrug 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, sothey can get better. That sounds ironic and strange, but that’sjust 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 wantto 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 QEor fiscal packages, whether they worked or not. In fact, anotherexpert once said that if it was a drug, then the FDA wouldactually 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’tgive you a higher high. And so the markets are just fixated onthis. We got from the bank of England what we wanted 37:28 — wesaw today there was a 7-2 vote for billions more. And we want thesame from the Fed. So we’ve had the ECB cutting rates to zero,China cutting rates, the Bank of England stepping in, we want theFed, 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 doyour part. Go lose your home and your job and your savings, and golive under a bridge, so that the economy can get well again. It’syour patriotic duty!

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