Thursday, March 24, 2011

Did Obama Peak Too Early--What About Syria?

With all of the attention be paid to bombing strikes against Libya--and justifiably so--it is a shame that we cannot expect anything like that kind of unified response by the West against Syria.

True, the protests in Syria have only recently begun--but already protesters have been shot, and let's not forget Syria has a history of dealing brutally with opposition:
In February 1982, the Syrian dictatorship headed by Hafez al-Assad responded to an uprising in the city of Hama with extraordinary violence. The town was indiscriminately bombarded by tanks and artillery; security forces then swept through the rubble and massacred the survivors. Estimates of the final death toll ranged from 10,000 to 40,000 or more. Hama became a symbol in the Arab world of what its authoritarian regimes were prepared to do to keep themselves in power.

Now the Arab uprising of 2011 has reached Syria, and Assad’s son, Bashar, is trying to apply his father’s solution. Early Wednesday, security forces stormed a mosque in the city of Daraa , where there had been five days of protest marches, and opened fire with live ammunition. According to Western news reports, the assault on the surrounding neighborhood continued through the day; an Associated Press reporter heard automatic weapons fire. At least 15 people were killed, including a prominent local doctor who was trying to provide medical aid. That brings to at least 21 the number of civilians murdered by Mr. Assad’s forces in Daraa since Friday.
But there are signs that the protesters will not be so easily silenced. Tens of thousands of them burned down the regime's party headquarters along with other buildings in response to the first shooting last Friday. Then this past Monday, the protests spread to 2 other towns after another protester was shot.

Also, today the number of murdered protesters has gone up to 25--and the AFP is reporting an unsubstantiated account that 100 protesters were killed yesterday when police opened fire.

And if the difference is that the US has a score to settle with Gaddafi after terrorists blew up a West Berlin nightclub in 1986 and blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 killing 289 passengers--the US should have a bone to pick with Syria as well.

While Hezbollah may be Iran's puppet, as a major supporter of terrorism,Syria provides aid and weapons to Hezbollah--and let's not forget the Americans murdered by Hezbollah:
  • In April 1983, Hizbullah exploded a truck in front of the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon--killing 63 employees, including the Middle East CIA director. 120 were wounded.
  • In October 1983, a Hizbullah suicide bomber blew up an American barracks in the Beirut airport, killing 241 U.S. Marines in their sleep and wounding another 81.
  • In December, the American embassy in Kuwait was bombed.
  • In March 1984, the CIA station chief in Lebanon, William Buckley, was kidnapped by Hizbullah and then murdered.
  • Buckley was the fourth American to be kidnapped in Beirut, and many more suffered the same fate between 1982 and 1992 (though not all died or were killed in captivity).
  • In September 1984, the U.S. embassy annex near Beirut was hit by yet another truck bomb (also traced to Hizbullah).
  • In December 1984, a Kuwaiti airliner was hijacked and two American passengers employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development were murdered.
  • The following June, Hizbullah operatives hijacked still another airliner, TWA flight 847. An American naval officer aboard the plane was shot, and his body was hurled onto the tarmac.
If revenge against Libya is part of the reason for supporting the overthrow of Libya, the overthrow of the current regime in Syria would deprive Hezbollah of a major supporter.

But the fact is that while Obama is going along with the air strikes on Libya, he is unlikely to support the same in the case of Syria.

Obama just peaked too soon--and besides, let's face it: Libya is a major supplier oil..

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Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

There is a big difference between Syria and Lybia.
Lybia has been a US boogeyman for decades. Gaddafi is as well-identified as an international villian as Saddam Hussein in American pop culture.
On the other hand, the Obama administration has been spending lots of time (also Clinton way back when) trying to portray the Assads as allies and nice guys. They can't suddenly turn around and make him a new villian.

Daled Amos said...

They can't suddenly turn around and make him a new villian.

But there was a time there after the US ousted Saddam that Gaddafi was considered rehabilitated. That is why there are plenty of pictures of Gaddafi meeting Blair, Gordon Brown and Sarkozy--among others.

The West already has done the sudden turnaround--in both directions.

Daled Amos said...

Sorry. The link for those pictures is here.