Bashar Assad has to be feeling bad today — now even the House of Saud is telling him to get the hell out of Lebanon. That’s about like having the guy who just heaved into the bushes tell you to take it easy on the sauce.
Of course, the Saudis have ulterior motives in all of this (blindingly obvious, I know). They realize that the Lebanese pro-democracy movement is only going to accelerate the growing calls for democracy in Saudi Arabia itself. Already the House of Saud is having to bow to the idea of local elections, even though they’re almost entirely rigged. If the Saudi people (who have an unemployment rate of nearly 1/3rd of the population) start realizing that the reason their life sucks is because of the gilded oil ticks in Riyadh, the House of Saud could crumble like a house of cards. King Fahd is probably quite worried that he’s going to end up as another Mussolini or Ceausescu when the hummus hits the fan.
The problem is that if Assad shows weakness and back down, it’s not going to stop there. Between Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey, Syria is going to be the odd man out in that part of the world. Already Die Welt is reporting student protests in Syria itself — something that is unknown in that part of the world.
This particular genie won’t go back in the bottle now that it’s out, no matter how hard Bashar “the Dorktator” Assad tries to shove it back in. The people of Lebanon have spoken, and the people of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the rest of the Middle East are starting to grumble. Assad will very likely be pressured to pull out, but that won’t necessarily do what King Fahd believes it will.