Syria: The Changing Diplomatic Picture

I was interviewed by Russia Today, along with the Heritage Foundation‘s Ariel Cohen, on the increasing diplomatic pressure on Syria because of Bashar Asad’s continuing violence against his people and their expression of a desire for a more democratic future. The substance  of my comments are summarized below.

If the U.S. were to overtly call for Asad to step down it  would provide moral support for the demonstrators, but would give Asad fuel for his claims that foreigners are behind the uprising. Israel has been even more restrained in its criticism than the U.S. in part for this reason. Cohen pointed out that Israel and the United States also don’t want to see a Muslim Brotherhood  backed government replace the secular Syrian dictatorship because the Brotherhood does not recognize “Israel’s right to exist.” (Does the present Syrian regime?)

In any case the U.S. can have no direct impact on Asad because it has no leverage. Russia can impact Asad because it has historically supported Syria. Russia has been supportive of Asad for the same reason the U.S. was supportive of Mubarak.

Already Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Syria, and Turkey, despite its friendly relations with Syria, is taking the lead in trying to directly pressure the Syrian regime to change its policies, warning Asad of the possibility of a “”Saddam-like” isolation .” Even Egypt has now spoken out. A strong moral stance by the U.S., while it would have no direct impact on Asad, could indirectly affect the situation by encouraging the Arab states that are allied with the U.S. to increase their pressure.

Military intervention, in any case, is counterproductive, as the situation in Libya has amply demonstrated.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute



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