Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Defector

Syrian General and Asad mate Manaf Tlass before he defected last month:

"Manaf seemed to be thinking big. He spoke of the United States as an equal, and was interested to identify balances of power of which Syria could take advantage. He oscillated between great wariness of the West and openness to new forms of engagement. After a while, it seemed I had caught him (and his cohort?) at a time when he was simply brainstorming. Certainly, the regime had abandoned any meaningful notion of socialism or even social justice. Manaf was not overly sensitive about such matters. His friends and relatives, the Asads, the Makhloufs and others of his generation were divorced from the struggles that their fathers had gone through in the 1960s. The generational divide was wide, separating two entirely different worldviews, one held by men who saw themselves as underdogs championing the cause of the have-nots against great odds, and one born into a world of plenty, privilege and power. It is not that Manaf's bunch was not 'nationalistic' or critical of Israel. It is that their views had come at little cost, and so were often more malleable. Yet it seemed that Manaf was embarking on a voyage of self-discovery, as though beginning to feel he was bigger than the regime. His style of jumping from one point to another did not in fact yield a holistic analysis; it was difficult to locate the center of gravity. He spoke as if luxury and plenty had turned policy imperatives into modular choices that could be exchanged in an exegetical manner. It was as if he was talking about a household, not a country." (My 50 minutes with Manaf, Bassam Haddad,, 26/7/12) 

Since defecting, Manaf seems to have found his center of gravity at last - in the land of Mom, apple pie, AIPAC and Middle East roadmaps:

"'I will try to help as much as I can to unite all the honourable people inside and outside Syria to put together a roadmap to get us out of this crisis, whether there is a role for me or not,' he told the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily as opposition factions gathered in Qatar to try to agree on a transitional leadership if the Assad regime falls." (Syria set for 'mother of all battles', AP/AFP/The Wall Street Journal/The Australian, 28/7/12)

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