You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

EDITORIAL: Damascus doesn’t believe in Ramadan

Syrian democracy hangs by a thread - what will Obama do?

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

Security forces backing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad opened the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a furious armored assault on the oppositionist town of Hama. The Baathist regime is working overtime to stamp out pro-democracy sentiment across the country. The human rights tragedy is becoming so acute that even the United States and Russia are beginning to take notice.

The "Arab Spring" became a long, hot summer for Syrian democracy advocates. The death toll in the 4-month-old uprising is estimated at 1,400, with more than 100 killed in the past few days. Syrian dissidents might have expected the international community to have taken action by now. Mr. Assad's victims exceed the 1,000 dead Libyans that galvanized the international community to act against Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

The current offensive may have pushed the international community past its breaking point. Russia, an important Syrian ally, is openly discussing some form of United Nations diplomatic intervention. Other U.N. Security Council members that initially opposed action are negotiating language for an official condemnation, though without any concrete steps such as sanctions or military strikes. The Obama administration is stepping up as well. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Syrian pro-democracy activists, and the White House reportedly is assessing other unilateral steps to aid the rebellion. The next move could be to explore how to extend recognition to an organized opposition government, as was done with the Libyan rebels. This would increase pressure on Damascus and give moral support to the severely pressed opposition.

The Obama administration also should seek ways to reach out to disaffected elements in Mr. Assad's security apparatus. Last month, former Syrian Vice President Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, in exile in Paris, said the outcome of events was in the hands of the military. As in Tunisia and Egypt, if the army withdraws support, the regime cannot be sustained. "I expect the army to disintegrate," he said. "The day will soon come when the army finds itself at a dead end with no choice but to return to the people."

That day may be growing closer. On July 29, Syrian Col. Riad Asaad posted an online video in which he announced "the formation of the independent Syrian army" with the declared mission to "protect the unarmed civilians and freedom seekers in Syria from the thugs and gangs of the sadistic dictator Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and [the] Hezbollah terror organization." It's unclear how many troops this dissident army can field, what weapons they have or the degree of influence Col. Asaad has with his brother officers, but there are scattered reports of other mutinies and of reprisal executions.

The Assad government does not command the support of the Syrian people and relies heavily on buttressing from Iran and Hezbollah. These groups represent other targets of opportunity for the international community because they are participating in an international act of aggression against the Syrian people in support of an illegitimate regime. So far, Mr. Obama hasn't done much. America should take a stronger stand than a toothless statement of condemnation.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts