Written by Barry Rubin
Today Syria has entered its biggest internal crisis since 1970. The regime has come out to crush the insurrection. Either it will succeed by killing many people or the insurrection will build into a real potential revolution.
And the Western states are doing...precisely zero.
One Syrian expert friend responded: "Less than zero."
Here's White House press secretary Jay Carney on Air Force 1, April 22:
"As we have consistently throughout this period, we deplore the use of violence and we’re very concerned about what we’ve -- the reports we’ve seen from Syria. We are monitoring it very closely; call on the Syrian government to cease and desist from the use of violence against peaceful protestors; call on all sides to cease and desist from the use of violence; and also call on the Syrian government to follow through on its promises and take action towards the kind of concrete reform that they promised."
That's fair and evenhanded: They are monitoring closely; both sides must cease their violence; and Syria's dictatorship must end the state of emergency. Sort of sounds like insisting the revolution stop without changing anything.
What happened to: Mubarak must go now! Yesterday! Qadhafi must go or else! Or even condemning Israel at every opportunity that involves even the claim of the mistreatment of one Palestinian?
Oh, right, Bashar al-Assad is just an anti-American dictator who is even now a leading sponsor of terrorism; ally of Iran; host and facilitator for terrorists killing Americans in Iraq; just caught trying to get nuclear weapons secretly; aggressor against Lebanon; torturer of political prisoners; and so on. It isn't as if he were a real problem for U.S. interests!
Note: After this article was written President Obama issued a tougher statement.
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now. We regret the loss of life and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims, and with the Syrian people in this challenging time."
It continues saying that Assad has not fulfilled his promises of reform and that the Syrian people are rightfully demanding human rights and ends: "We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people."
But once again: Or what are you going to do about it?
Now compare today with what Obama said about Iran two years ago when it was arresting thousands of demonstrators and shooting unarmed protesters:
June 2009: “I would suggest Mr. Ahmadinejad think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people."
April 2011: "We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people."
Ahmadinejad didn't think then; Assad won't change or heed now; Obama didn't do anything then and won't do anything now.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org. You can read and subscribe to his blog at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.