There are many things going on in the world today but one that seems particularly troubling and not really getting a lot of notice in the current cycle is the events in Syria. Things have been going from bad to worse in the Middle Eastern nation. Protests have been going on for two months now and even though the Assad government has tried removing emergency laws and brutal crack downs the protesters are not giving up.
However neither is the Assad dictatorship. They have sent out tanks and snipers to keep the protesters off the streets. There have been reports that ambulances are not being allowed to move in cities like Deraa and that government forces are going house to house searching out and arresting activists.
In the New York Times today a close associate of President Bashar al-Assad, Rami Makhlo said:
We will not go out, leave on our boat, go gambling, you know,” he said at his plush, wood-paneled headquarters in Damascus. “We will sit here. We call it a fight until the end.” He added later, “They should know when we suffer, we will not suffer alone.”
He went further to make explicate the idea that if the Assad regime collapses there any kind of stability in the region with Israel is at risk.
This ratcheting up of the rhetoric against the protests puts the Obama administration in a tough place. They are seeing the same kind of actions that led to a NATO intervention in the in Libya, up to and including the use of heavy weapons against civilian targets, primarily people calling for a change in regime because of a lack of basic services and opportunities outside of the ruling class.
In the Washington Post there is an article quoting an unnamed Administration official in saying that the President is getting closer and closer to saying that it is time for the Assad family to step down from power. In the Arab Spring uprisings having the United States say that it is time for a leader to go has been pretty much the breaking point for them.
Obviously this leak is two pronged. First off it is a way to put the Syrian government on notice that things are getting out of hand as far as Washington is concerned and it is way to float a bubble to see if there is any will to take action from the people of the US and in Europe.
In Egypt, Tunisia and Libya when we have started publicly saying it was time for a leader to go things have escalated very quickly from there. Still it is a huge step at this point for the United States to say that Assad must leave. We are already involved in a stalemated civil war in Libya and balancing our desire to see more democratic governments in the Middle East is the fact that having another nation in further turmoil that we can’t control.
One of the reasons that we have not seen the pictures and words out of Syria as we have with other nations is that no independent journalism or journalists have been allowed into that nation and they have been much more successful in tamping down on internet organizing and distribution of information. For all of that there is obviously massive discontent in everywhere in Syria if the protests continue and grow in the face of aggressive military action.
Will the United States make a move and declare that Assad and the leadership must go? Can the protesters in the face of serious military action really keep up this pressure? There is no way to know. What one can say with some certainty is that the blood will continue to flow in this nation. This is the ugly side of revolutions, the dead in the streets the total insecurity as a repressive regime tries to stave off collapse by any means possible.
What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.