So I think my first bet on the Assad regime is looking pretty safe. For those of you coming late, a year ago I bet that Syrian dictator Bashir Assad would still be in power one year later — that is, at 5:00pm EST on August 31, 2012. John Quiggin of Crooked Timber took the other side. The loser will pay $50 to a charity of the winner’s choice.
A quick glance at the calendar will show that I haven’t won this yet. In theory, the rebels could storm the presidential palace tomorrow. Or Assad could get on a flight to Moscow next Tuesday bound for a long quiet retirement in a beachside villa outside of Uglegorsk. But I don’t think it’s very likely. Assad has some problems! But he’s probably not going to fall in the next 18 days.
Close followers of this blog may recall that back in April, I challenged John to a second bet: viz., that Assad would continue in office for another six months beyond August 31. He accepted. So it’s entirely possible that I could win this bet, but lose the second one. These things happen; let’s see how it goes.
Meanwhile, two things. First, you may recall that this bet arose out of a more general discussion on the topic of dictators and their place in the world of the early 21st century. I’m mulling over a “one year later” post on this topic. Comments and suggestions are welcome! Second, I have to think about what charity I’d like John to pay his $50 towards. Suggestions on this are most definitely welcome. (No, I’m not going to ask him to contribute $50 to the Scaife Foundation. Play nice.)