What if the 56-year old Bashar al-Assad could avoid either of the respective fates of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein? What if he could retire from presidential life and become a billionaire businessman in Jaffa, Tel Aviv; post the Israeli annexation of the Median Jewish (Alawite and Druze) regions of Syria and Lebanon? What if he could be really smart and avoid acting in a really stupid way that would lead to the loss of tens of thousands of lives in Syria not to speak of the immense material destruction? What if he would sign a partition agreement that would peacefully divide Syria between Israel and the AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) and that would grant him and members of his administration full immunity and which would allow him and them to retain all of their assets?
Or does he prefer to be hanged like Saddam or lynched like Gaddafi? This is a stark choice. Of course if he prefers he could flee to Iran or even to Venezuela although that is quite far away. But why flee when he could lead the good life in Tel Aviv? Why flee from much of his assets when he could retain them all? Why risk prosecution when he could be granted immunity by signed international international agreement? These are all very good questions indeed.
Yet the likelihood that Bashar will climb down from his tree is still very slim. Bashar does not have many friends in the international community, yet he is British-educated, speaks impeccable English and presumably should be open to Western logic. There should be intensive and sustained international diplomatic effort towards persuading Bashar personally of the virtues of peaceful partition. This is an avoidable war unlike the upcoming war in Lebanon. Tens of thousands of Syrian lives could be saved by one Syrian ophthalmologist.