Tue, July 05, 2011 | Rubin Reports | By Barry Rubin
Syria: The Obama Administration’s Favorite Murderous Dictatorship
The Syrian regime has been killing and repressing its people every day for many weeks now. There has been more brutality in Syria in the last two months than in Egypt during decades. Yet the Obama Administration continues to protect the Syrian dictator and do the minimum to criticize him.
Ritual denounciations from the U.S. government sound good but, as one close observer put it, furnish more of a license for Syria’s regime to kill than any serious barrier to America’s biggest enemy among Arab governments staying in power.
Here is the latest State Department statement, from July 5:
“The United States remains deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks against peaceful protestors at the hands of the Syrian government. The government of Syria claims it is interested in a dialogue with the opposition. Yet, its actions in cities like Hama and along the Turkish border directly undermine the credibility of its words and its initiative. Syrian security forces have once again stepped up their repression and harassment of peaceful demonstrators and opposition members. There is no justification, no excuse for the Syrian security forces to begin yet another crackdown, killing protesters and arresting people suspected of political opposition. We urge the government of Syria to immediately halt its intimidation and arrest campaign, pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and allow the Syrian people to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place. The international community will continue to stand with the people of Syria as they seek their universal human rights.”
Sounds impressive, right? But in diplomatic context it is anything but. Here’s what’s missing:
1. No demand for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. Remember Mubarak? Leave power, now, yesterday was too late to do so.
2. No statement saying: We condemn Syria’s government. Instead we get — after so much bloodshed — just “deeply concerned” and “urge.”
3. No specific steps being taken to undermine, weaken, or punish the regime.
4. No link between Syria’s repression and its status as Iran’s ally; Hamas’ and Hizballah’s patron; and being directly involved in attacking and killing Americans in Iraq. In other words, there’s no strategic perspective or sense of U.S. interests other than purely humanitarian concern.
In future, the Obama Administration will have much to answer for due to its foreign policy, but I think that no other single policy will be as reviled as its behavior toward Syria: a failed attempt to engage, a refusal to recognize that failure, and being an apologist for an anti-American dictatorship that has been the most murderous and repressive government in the world during the current U.S. government’s term (or terms) in office.