Will Assad's supporters flee to Israel?

Reuters has a small, strange story today about Israeli preparations to offer refuge to members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's sect in the event that his regime falls. "We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights," said Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz to a Knesset committee on Tuesday.

There's only one problem with that offer: There aren't many Alawites on the Golan Heights. The region is overwhelmingly Sunni and Druze -- communities that would likely come out on top in a post-Assad Syria. Ghajar, a disputed village of a couple thousand along the Syrian-Lebanese border, appears to be the last Alawite community in the region.

So to flee to Israel in any significant numbers, Alawites living in Damascus or Syria's northwestern mountains would have two options: They could brave the journey across the presumably hostile Golan Heights, or they could travel into Lebanon and cross along its southeastern border, presumably at Ghajar. Why these Alawites would prefer Israel over south Lebanon -- home of the Assad's longtime ally, Hezbollah -- is a mystery.

Given the improbability of this scenario, the most likely explanation is that Gantz was trying to tweak Assad -- saying, in effect, that Israel would offer relief to his people once he no longer could. But the premise of his remarks -- that Alawites would be forced to flee for their lives after Assad fell -- isn't a sentiment that Syria's opposition will welcome. Gantz's statements may have been anti-Assad, but they weren't pro-revolution.



Switzerland's long Libyan nightmare is finally over

The multiyear diplomatic feud between Switzerland and Libya originally set off by enfant terrible Hannibal Qaddafi's 2008 hotel room assault on two of his servants has finally come to an end

The new Libyan government made the decision on Sunday and announced the news on Monday, leaving Libya free to do business with Switzerland as well as with Lebanon, which the late ruler Moammar Gaddafi had also boycotted.

The economic sanctions against Switzerland were the result of a diplomatic row between Switzerland and Libya over the arrest of Moammar Gaddafi’s son Hannibal in Geneva in July 2008.

The Swiss assault was just one of several violent incidents in European luxury hotels inolving Hannibal during the last decade. The elder Qaddafi's response to the incident was characteristially over-the-top, involving detaining Swiss businessmen and even proposing at the U.N. that the country be abolished

As for Hannibal, the most recent reports are that he's fled to Algeria