Looking at the political calculus, I find it hard to believe that the United States, after having spent over a year building up Assad as the latest monster of the century, is willing to suffer the loss of face that is involved in having him stay on as part of a deal. That, to me, is just not how the US operates. A key element of US foreign policy is the idea of credibility and being perceived as a reliable ally, one that does not stake out positions and then abandon them. US credibility took a hit in the Gulf countries thanks to the Obama administration’s equivocal response to the Egyptian revolution (first trying to bolster Mubarak and then pulling the plug), and from the plainly stated US desire to pivot to Asia and its riches (and away from the Middle East and its headaches). I don’t think the US is going to get out in front of the anti-Assad coalition and insist on a negotiated settlement.
Perhaps Saudi Arabia is living the neo-con Clean Break dream in reverse. Instead of carrying the fight from Iraq to Syria, and then Iran, as Dick Cheney dreamed, militant Islamists backed by Saudi Arabia (or powerful elements within Saudi Arabia) are closing in on the overthrow of the Assad regime and creating the social, political, and military conditions for an anti-Maliki insurrection in Iraq’s Sunni heartland.
Thousands of mourners gathered in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Saturday at the funerals of Sunni protesters killed by army troops a day earlier.The funeral processions were followed by renewed protests against Iraq's Shia-led government.On Friday, five people were shot dead and dozens more were wounded when the army opened fire on a protest.…The army had withdrawn from the city for the funerals, fearing further violence.But in an apparent revenge attack, gunmen killed two soldiers and abducted three more on the outskirts of the city.Sunni leaders in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, had earlier told the BBC that they would attack army positions in the province if the government failed to bring the soldiers responsible for the protester shootings "to justice".
At the protest, the latest in a series of demonstrations against the government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, shouts of "Listen Maliki, we are free people" were followed by "Take your lesson from Bashar," a reference to Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria.