An apparent suicide bombing in Damascus has killed Syria’s defense minister, as well as Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law. The NY Times reports:
The casualties were from the core team trying to enforce a security solution to the uprising in Syria, and in such a tense, suspicious climate, it was not clear who President Assad might find to replace them.“If a bodyguard blew himself up, then there a major internal security breach,” said Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese military officer and a military analyst.“Who will replace these people?” he said. “They are irreplaceable at this stage, it’s hard to find loyal people now that doubt is sowed everywhere. Whoever can get to Asef Shawkat can get to Assad.”
With this assassination and the renewed fighting in Damascus, the Syrian crisis has taken a much graver turn. It is too soon to count Assad out; order could still be restored in Damascus, and if that happens the regime could re-stabilize, at least for a while. But if the regime can’t stabilize things quickly, this could be the beginning of the end.We will have to wait and to see what happens, but it’s troubling that we still have no idea who would replace Assad if the government falls. Indeed, two different Syrian rebel groups tried to lay claim to the assassination attempt. It is one thing overthrow a bad government, and something else to replace it with a better alternative.So far, the Syrian civil war has made a mockery of all that big talk about the “responsibility to protect.” Let’s hope that post-Assad Syria doesn’t lead to more bloodshed, more hand wringing and moralistic posturing, and to an even more horrifying exposure of the hatred and violence that often drives human beings.