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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New York Times Editorial, "The Killing in Syria Goes On": No Mention of Obama's Culpability

In "The Killing in Syria Goes On" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/opinion/the-killing-in-syria-goes-on.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), the editorial board of The New York Times demands that the Arab League "impose muscular penalties for Mr. Assad’s brutality." It is despicable how far behind the curve the Times has fallen, and I am sickened by the extreme lengths being taken by the Times to shield Obama and friends, i.e. Hillary, Samantha Power, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Kucinich, Jimmy Carter and others, from even partial responsibility for this human tragedy.

Obama rode into the Oval Office determined to demonstrate that the countries comprising the Bush administration's "axis of evil" were merely misunderstood and could be won over with tolerance and a kindly outreach program. More specifically, he believed that Israel was the fount of all tensions in the Middle East, and if a peace agreement could be imposed upon a purportedly intransigent Israel, tranquility would prevail throughout the region.

In keeping with this sea change in foreign policy, Obama promptly sent new year's ("Nowruz") greetings to Iran's theocratic leadership in March 2009, referring to the "true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization" and making clear that the US did not seek regime change. Moreover, Obama sat on the sidelines as Iran's population rose in revolt and was slaughtered in the streets following the country's fraudulent June 2009 presidential election.

Regarding Syria, after repeated visits by Senator John Kerry with Assad, Obama appointed a new ambassador, Robert Ford, to Damascus, without Senate confirmation, for the first time since 2005, when Lebanese Prime Minister Rafi Hariri, a friend of the West, was murdered by Hezbollah at the behest of Assad. Obama barely said a word when earlier this year Assad mowed down protesters, but grew uneasy when the number of dead spiraled over 2,000 (now closer to 3,500) and the number of missing also moved into the thousands.

There were embarrassingly belated denunciations from Obama, again "leading from behind," regarding Assad's atrocities, and both the US and the EU were delinquent in imposing sanctions upon the purchase of oil from Syria. Even the Times acknowledged that it had taken Obama too long to call for Assad to step down (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/opinion/truth-about-syria.html?_r=1&ref=opinion).

Those who read this blog know:

• In December 2010, I denounced Obama's appointment of Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/12/like-thief-in-night-obama-appoints.html).

• In April 2011, I asked that the US ambassador to Damascus be recalled (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2011/04/recall-us-ambassador-to-syria-now-shame.html). Regrettably, Obama waited until October before removing him (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45013668/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/us-pulls-out-ambassador-syria-over-safety-fears/).

• In June 2011, I predicted that there would be a savage civil war in Syria (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2011/07/syria-beginning-of-savage-civil-war.html).

• In July 2011, I predicted that elements of the Syrian army will defect and that Assad will abandon Syria with his family. I also questioned whether Syria's Sunnis will be intent upon inflicting revenge upon the ruling Alawite minority (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2011/08/syria-butchery-ignored-by-arab.html).

I hope that those who read my blog in Arlington agree that I have not been far off the mark. Although it is not clear where Assad and his family will ultimately seek asylum, it is not his intention to die in the same manner as Libya's Qaddafi.

What will be the consequences of Assad's departure? This will certainly complicate efforts by Iran to supply Hezbollah, its proxy in Lebanon, with weaponry. Also, with Syria, soon to be ruled by its Sunni majority, no longer supporting Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, there will again be a reshuffling of power among Lebanon's Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze.

Watch for the next move of Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon's Druze, who has always sought to ally himself with those who on the ascendancy and who for many years has served as a reliable weather vane.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, but has headquarters in Damascus, will need to find a new home. Its close association with Assad, an Alawite responsible for the murder of thousands of Syrian Sunnis (Palestinians are also Sunnis), is proving an embarrassment.

Assad's departure will be a mixed blessing for Israel. While supportive of Hezbollah's provocations across the Lebanese border with Israel, Assad has always sought to avoid a direct conflict with Israel. It will take years before calm is restored in Syria, and during the interim period when the Sunnis consolidate power, their ability to initiate hostilities against Israel will be limited. Ultimately, however, all good things come to an end.

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