A premature declaration of victory in Syria

BEIRUT: Radical regimes in the Arab world have devised a peculiar measure for calculating the results of military confrontations, which can be illustrated using three examples.

Immediately following the 1967 war with Israel, Syria's Minister of Information proudly declared that his country had emerged victorious in the six-day war. When asked how by bewildered foreign journalists given the loss of the Golan Heights, he explained that Israel's real aim was to topple the Damascus regime. And since the regime did not fall... Syria won.

Years later, in 1984, a Western journalist was interviewing Yasser Arafat in Tunisia. She asked him about his feelings after being evicted from Lebanon by Israel two years earlier. Aeafat insisted that he actually won the 1982 war. Asked how, since he was sitting thousands of miles from his previous headquarters in Beirut, he quickly answered: "where is [Menahim] Begin? Where is [Ariel] Sharon?" Both men had been driven out of office, while he, Arafat, remained the head of the PLO. Therefore, according to his logic, he actually won the war against Israel.

A decade later, in Iraq, President Saddam Hussein declared victory in Baghdad after his troops had been evicted from Kuwait by the U.S led international coalition, claiming victory in the "mother of all battles" for surviving the world's onslaught on his regime.