Protesters gather during a demonstration after Friday Prayer in the Syrian port city of Banias May 6, 2011. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)
As the days go by and the Assad regime kills more peaceful demonstrators, U.S. policy becomes less and less possible to comprehend, much less defend.
The latest news makes the situation there even clearer and more horrifying: “At least 10,000 protesters have been detained in the past several days in a mass arrest campaign aimed at quelling a seven-week uprising in Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, as fresh shelling of a residential neighborhood was reported on Wednesday from Homs, the country’s third largest city. The shelling, most intense between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., appeared to signal a further escalation in the crackdown.”
U.S. policy in the face of these horrors has been weak. Last Friday Secretary Clinton was still saying Assad might be a reformer. The president has yet to say one word about Syria himself. A statement was issued a couple of weeks ago, but he has not yet said anything on camera to denounce the regime’s violence or support the demonstrators. Our new sanctions do not name Assad. The Syrian ambassador remains here in Washington and ours remains in Damascus—even after a member of the embassy staff was detained by Syrian police, hooded, and beaten. The net effect is to make Syrians and Lebanese who are struggling for freedom wonder why the United States is still supporting Assad.
Good question. Here are some possibilities.
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