One cannot but wonder, watching the demise of Hamas, if the outcome of this war is more of a lesson for Arabs or Israelis. What experiences can we draw from a war against a supposed enemy whose power and knowledge are incontestably superior to ours? Not many if the Assad regime, responsible for the havoc over the last 40 years, remains in power.
The real opportunity of this war is that it may spark an Arab Renaissance if, and only if, the Assad regime is removed and replaced by Syrians intent on building a nation instead of destroying other countries, by moderate Muslims ready to crush extremists instead of amplifying their miserable existence, and by Arabs able to embrace nationalism in order to engineer coexistence instead of inventing "resistance."
Assad and the Ba'ath Party will sacrifice every Palestinian, Syrian, Israeli, Lebanese, and Iraqi soul to stay in power, much like Iraq's Hussein did until brought down by force. For those of us who know the regime intimately, terror is its tool of choice and it houses terrorists just as Hollywood houses celebrities.
While Hamas commits Hamacide, a term my son Samer recently coined to define the group's self-destruction, Hizbullah is watching the events unfold with fear pounding the temples of its leadership and knowing full well that they must re-invent themselves for the next round of hostilities. Testing Iran's military field tactics or Assad's guerrilla warfare, and using the undeniably stupid leadership of Hamas, are but a distraction dwarfing the nuclear ambitions both Syria and Iran are racing towards.
Where is the West's "Task Force" developing surgical knowhow to eradicate both regimes? For those wishful thinkers who believe in a dialogue with Assad, be aware that Hamas, Hizbullah, Fatah al-Islam, and many other terror groups are critical balance sheet entries without which Assad is bankrupt and his actions ultimately inconsequential.
Whereas Hamas is intent on testing the been-there-done-that Israeli Army who is determined, this time around, to uproot the terror on its door step, Assad and Ahmadinejad play the West like a harp and the Arabs like a disposable tissue. Notwithstanding the fact Hamas today endangers the lives of its own children and women to show-off what it learned from the Iranian Hizbullah, their cacophony, mirrored by their meager existence, reflects the failure of the West to recognize what Michael Ledeen has dubbed the "Terror Masters in Damascus and Tehran" pulling, like Marionettes, the strings of today's war.
Empty assurances of cooperation
Even if the IDF memory bank is getting an upgrade with the latest the Syrian and Iranian regimes have to offer from their arsenal of terror, both regimes will engineer a comeback that will kill more Israelis, more Palestinians, more Lebanese, and more Iraqis. It is a certainty that Damascus' next plans of terror are blossoming and waiting to be harvested even before the expected implosion of Hamas, while Assad is selling the West empty assurances of cooperation.
Assad's extremism, hiding behind a smoke screen of secularism, is infinitely more dangerous than the exposed extremism of Hamas which, not unlike Saddam Hussein, always tells you exactly what its intentions are. The Assad regime grows stealthily Islamic terrorism in all its forms and, by all accounts, is the ultimate enemy of both moderate Muslims and western countries. By letting Assad off the hook, we, Syrians, are endangering the spark of our own Renaissance which, if history is right, can be precipitated from a free and enlightened Damascus experiencing today the darkest days of its perseverance as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
For Arabs to save themselves from the doom of ignorance and ineptitude, we must fight for the freedom of our masses to liberate them from extremism. Saving Iraq from Saddam while keeping her sandwiched between Assad and Ahmadinejad is an irony of gargantuan proportions. Undeniably, oppression is the conduit through which extremism flourishes. Unless we resolve this oxymoronic doctrine in which stability comes with dictatorial rule yet the dictators themselves deliberately foster extremism, the Arab civilization is doomed.
Unfortunately, along the way, Assad's collage of terrorists will continue delivering damaging blows to Israel and the West while pretending he wants peace and propitious relations.
Farid Ghadry is the president of the Reform Party of Syria, a US-based leading Assad opposition political group