Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Will the USA take Makhlouf's Israel bait

Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of Bashar al-Assad invoked the security of Israel during his defence of the Syrian regime in remarks published by The New York Times on 10 May.

In the interview, Makhlouf delivered a two-part message. The first is that the regime is adamant on crushing and repressing the democratic rights movement in Syria. If Al-Assad's regime falls, Israel's security will be under risk, he added in the second part.

Makhlouf's assumption has been - duly - highlighted in Israel's media, as shown in this report by Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (and here by Yediot Aharonot):

Israel's lobby grouping in the USA, AIPAC, reacted similarly:

 Regime U-turn?

While the Syrian regime is crushing the Syrian protests, its image abroad has been badly damaged.  

To repair this, Makhouf sought to bury the bloody crackdown on the Syrian protestors in Israel's security ahead of the AIPAC conference later this month. 

If this shows anything, it proves that the Syrian regime is in a political disarray to the extent that it is pinning hope on changing the US course on the protest as a result of Israel. 

But this ploy has been unsuccessfully tried during Egypt's revolt.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Makhlouf has previously refused to answer the NYT correspondent's request for an interview:

"An e-mail sent to Mr. Makhlouf’s company on Saturday, asking for comment, went unanswered. Calls to the headquarters seeking comment were not answered Saturday," said the NYT article on Syria on 30 April. 

Now, The NYT correspondent Anthony Shadid has been exceptionally allowed into Syria with the apparent aim of interviewing only Makhlouf and Bouthaina Shaban, the Syrian president's media adviser.

 It goes without saying that the choice of Makhlouf to speak for the regime is peculiar.

Editor of Beirut-based The Daily Star Michael Young said that Makhlouf's interview was "revealing":

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