- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In this Editorial section today, guest columnist Farid Ghadry, president of the Reform Party of Syria, makes the case that Bashar Assad’s Ba’athist dictatorship is in serious trouble, and that most of the necessary ingredients for the fall of the regime are in place. Were Mr. Assad’s government to be replaced by one that does not favor terrorists, it would represent a major change in the balance of power in favor of the United States and its allies and against the jihadists. Although he has not called for regime change in Syria, President Bush noted in this year’s State of the Union address that “Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region.”

Indeed, since Mr. Assad’s late father seized power in a 1970 coup, few things in the Middle East have been as consistent as Syrian support for terrorism. Over the years, the Assad dynasty has aligned itself with rogue regimes that back terrorism, like the mullahcracy in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi dictatorship and Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi’s government.

And at one time or another, Syria has supported nearly all of the major terrorist organizations that operate in the Middle East, ranging from groups like the PFLP, PFLP-GC, Abu Nidal Organization and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to Hezbollah, Hamas and Abu Musab Zarqawi’s terrorist network. The Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley of Lebanon has also hosted non-Middle Eastern terrorist groups like the Japanese Red Army and Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang.

Since 1970, many things have taken place around the world that were once dismissed as unthinkable. Here are just a few of them: the defeat of Soviet Communism and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and Communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe; the demise of apartheid in South Africa; the violent fall of brutal dictators like Saddam in Iraq and Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania and their replacement with democratic governments; and the much less violent demises of autocrats in former Soviet republics in Georgia and Ukraine and their replacement with nascent democratic governments. Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and is trying, under a Likud regime, to negotiate the creation of an independent Palestinian state with a government ruled by a man who spent much of his adult life as a top aide to Yasser Arafat.

But while revolutionary change has been occurring all around the world, Syria’s Ba’athist government has remained in the same basic place: a tyrannical regime on the wrong side of history. During the Cold War, Hafez Assad aligned himself with the Communists. Although he gave minimal, grudging support to the 1991 Gulf War, his son today sides squarely with anti-democratic forces seeking to destroy any chance of freedom for the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples.

Bashar Assad’s growing problems are at a minimum very bad news for the jihadists, who cannot afford to see him go the way of Saddam or Ceausescu.

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