When Hafez al Assad ruled Syria with an iron grip less paranoid but equally as ruthless as Saddam's hold over Iraq, the Syrian dictator was often described as " wily " by journalists. His son and successor, Bashar al Assad
seems to lack his father's talent for reading the geopolitical situation and changing course. When the elder Assad took into account the impact of the ongoing Soviet collapse on Syria's military fortunes, Assad promptly lined up with the United States to tackle his bitter enemy Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War. By contrast, Bashar embraced the Iraqi regime in its weakness, reputedly having formed a close friendship with Hussein's maniacal son Uday and has granted not only asylum to his father's defeated Baathist rivals but passage to jihadi radicals who wanted to fight the Americans. By contrast, Hafez Assad regarded the Islamists as a dire threat to the Syrian Baath, having crushed the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama.
In short, Bashar Assad is cultivating needless conflict with the United States by provoking U.S. military forces on the ground in Iraq when even the Neocon hawks would prefer to leave Syria alone If the U.S. strikes at Damascus it will be driven by the security needs of U.S. troops in Iraq, not Pentagon civilian Neocons who would much rather be putting pressure on Iran or turn to to North Korea. Syria is small beer on the rogue state all-star team.