Syria’s turn next?

posted at 2:15 pm on March 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Syrian opposition organizers declared today a day of protest, which had the Bashar Assad regime on high alert, warning foreign journalists to ignore the demonstrations or else, as the Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith notes.  It hardly mattered, as Syrians marched in the street — and brought their cell phones.  Two videos have already gone up on YouTube showing significant participation during both daylight and evening hours.  Keep an eye out especially for the cell phones held aloft in the crowds as protesters record the demonstrations:

It’s impossible to know the nature of the opposition in these marches, unless one speaks Arabic, and even then it sounds mainly like slogans rather than political declarations. The Assad regime keeps a tight leash on demonstrations, unless they want to send their own message. The crowds here appear to be careful not to do anything provocative enough to draw a response, but it might not take much to provoke Assad or his security apparatus, either.

Let’s hope the protesters can push Assad aside on their own, because they won’t get any help from the West:

Hopes of quickly establishing a no-fly zone over Libya were dashed in Paris Wednesday when leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations declined to adopt the measure.

Instead, the G8 foreign ministers called on the United Nations Security Council to examine further sanctions against Libya, including economic ones, but made no mention of a possible military action against Col. Gadhafi’s regime, including the setting up of a no fly zone.

The G-8 agreed “that the U.N. Security Council should increase the pressure, including through economic measures, for Moammar Gadhafi to leave,” G-8 foreign ministers said in their final statement.

Lebanon, the only Arab country that is a Security Council member, on Monday began conferring on a draft resolution for the no-fly zone over the weekend, but it remained unclear whether if it would get the necessary votes. The draft is based on a proposal approved by the Arab League.

Lebanon can certainly make the proposal, but it would take the G-8 to conduct a no-fly zone — and they’re apparently not interested, not even after a unanimous (if suspiciously late) plea from the Arab League.  More sanctions won’t keep Moammar Gaddafi from annihilating the rebels, which he’s presently doing rather efficiently.  Gaddafi issued an ultimatum for surrender or exile today:

Moammar Gadhafi’s forces struck the rebellion’s heartland with airstrikes, missiles and artillery on Tuesday, trying for the first time to take back a city that serves as a crucial gateway for the band of fighters who threatened his four-decade hold on power. Rebels rushed to the front and sent up two rickety airplanes to bomb government ships, as mosques broadcast pleas for help defending the city.

The pro-Gadhafi forces surprised rebels with attacks on two sides of the city of Ajdabiya, and the opposition was outgunned. …

Gadhafi said he expects victory, telling the Italian newspaper Il Giornale that the rebels’ options are closing. “There are only two possibilities: Surrender or run away.”

He said he was not like the Tunisian or Egyptian leaders, who fell after anti-government protests. “I’m very different from them,” he said. “People are on my side and give me strength.”

Bashar Assad is bright enough to draw the obvious conclusion.  Engagement and negotiation means demands for removal from the United States and our allies, while brutal crackdowns mean … few lasting consequences from the West.  Guess which path we’re most likely to see from dictators in the region from now on.


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Shameful.

Queen0fCups on March 15, 2011 at 2:18 PM

G-8 shows less initiative than the Arab League.

…but the the G-8 and the Arab League show more initiative than Obama.

Heck, the French show more initiative than the U.N., the G-8 – something is in the global water.

Obama goes to Brazil

Clown in Chief

Schadenfreude on March 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

He said he was not like the Tunisian or Egyptian leaders, who fell after anti-government protests. “I’m very different from them,” he said. “People are on my side and give me strength.”

That’s rich coming from the man buying mercenaries hand over fist.

Count to 10 on March 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Oh dear, I better hit the links more often /Barack

sandee on March 15, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Engagement and negotiation means demands for removal from the United States and our allies, while brutal crackdowns mean … few lasting consequences from the West. Guess which path we’re most likely to see from dictators in the region from now on.

Ugh. Now we need an apology tour.

Count to 10 on March 15, 2011 at 2:23 PM

I’m 100% certain Obama will take a principled stand and announce his position on this just as soon as the outcome is decided and the aftermath has played out in the press.

John Deaux on March 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM

When the going gets tough, the tough go golfing.

Queen0fCups on March 15, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Fore!!!

paragon27x on March 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM

John Deaux on March 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Are you talking about after what’s happening in Syria or the playoffs?

karl9000 on March 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I miss Bush. Heck, I miss Nixon.

KillerKane on March 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

I thought what K’daffy was doing was “unacceptable”?

cartooner on March 15, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Why just last month the One was comparing himself to the Gipper! I don’t think anyone bought it, certainly K’daffy didn’t.

cartooner on March 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM

good thing homeslice is above the fray.

ted c on March 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM

If Syrian’s revolt for democracy and we fail to engage, it’ll be time for articles of impeachment on failure to act for the national security.

Shall act in the interest of safety of the American public, is a lost concept on this administration, and now it could be a pattern.

Sounds strong? I don’t know that it is.

Speakup on March 15, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I miss Bush. Heck, I miss Nixon.

KillerKane on March 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

heck, even Jimmy Carter did something about nuclear reactors

jus sayin….

ted c on March 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

There are a couple of main points in play here.

1. Industrialized mations are a bit leary of getting themselves in position to be accused of invading an Arab country for their oil. All that past whining from the Arabs has left a mark. Let them live with it,..or die, as the case may be.

2. Oil itself. The G-8 want to be positioned to properly pander to the winner who can regrant them access. They are more sure of this with Daffy, since the rebels are an unknown. Loss of rebel life is second in priority.

a capella on March 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

mations

=nations.

a capella on March 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Heck, I miss Nixon.

KillerKane on March 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

NOBODY MISSES NIXON!!

Not even Nixon…

JohnGalt23 on March 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Clearly the West wants Arab dictators to use ruthless methods to eliminate opposition. All of our actions achieve the result of encouraging those actions.

Further, our rhetoric has the happy side-effect of encouraging rabble-rousers to act, thus creating a handy excuse for the dictators to kill hundreds of wicked freedom-lovers.

hawksruleva on March 15, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I suppose Syria could bribe the populace with an offer of a free eye exam.

BL@KBIRD on March 15, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Commander in ignorance.

This president thinks he speaks with authority on any topics he chooses to address.

Schadenfreude on March 15, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Obama is petrified by the unprecedented newness emerging in the desert. In Tunisia and Egypt, the crowd moved quickly against the regime, which meant at least that the old regime would be gone. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, except for American intelligence, which has finally lost its credentials for both analysis and prophecy. It was probably the CIA that put us on the side of Hosni Mubarak in the early days of the Tahrir Square manifestations. The president was quiet and then was just sheer bluster, not decisive and not imaginative either. He was not a man of history. Except to move it backwards.

Schadenfreude on March 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM

We almost got rid of khadafy… almost.

We almost got rid of dinner jacket last year… almost.

We did help oust our ally in Egypt (yeah, I know, not a great guy, but unlike the above two, at least willing to play ball).

The adults are in charge… the reset button is active… oh heck, forget it. Stupidest administration ever.

WitchDoctor on March 15, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Syria made its stance known to us way back in 2007, when we were rounding up their top arms dealer, who now sits in Club Fed. He has been the point man for Syria’s WMD acquisition, arming terrorists and moving narcotics around (which is his family’s business). Of course Obama won’t go after Assad… to many of the ‘friend of a friend’ business going on with Rezko, Alsammarae and other choice individuals in Chitown with connections to Syria. Of course a destabilized regime means it won’t be asking for any favors, either, as they will have too many fish in the pan at home.

Do remember Hama Rules and just desserts.

No matter what Obama does, it is unlikely to have a good outcome with Syria. If the Alawites remain in control, they can start divulging western names and contacts. And if rebels overthrow the place and we don’t help, then THEY can start opening the Syrian archives. Would you rather have a vindictive dictator or PO’d rebels? Fun, fun, fun!

ajacksonian on March 15, 2011 at 3:50 PM

In two years Westerners will wish the dictators were back in power. Nothing good will come of the revolutions taking place in the Middle East–Islamic states will replace the fallen governments, and all of them will be bent on destroying Israel.

zoyclem on March 15, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Nothing good will come of the revolutions taking place in the Middle East–Islamic states will replace the fallen governments, and all of them will be bent on destroying Israel.

Syria is already dedicated to Israel’s destruction, as is Libya. What, so they will be meaner than the barstids in there?? Maybe. Remove the enemies that are weakened — Quadaffi, Assad, they have killed hundreds and thousands of Americans and Israelis with their actions. Topple them and deal with what comes next.

EasyEight on March 15, 2011 at 6:48 PM

EasyEight,

I’m not an advocate for doing nothing–but something should have been be done long ago, when there was still a chance of secular governments forming. What will rise in the place of the current regimes will be a loose confederation of fanatical states bent on Israel’s destruction. Unlike most of the despots in the region, these governments (if you want to call them that) will not be worried about self-preservation. I am not condoning the current dictatorships, but what is likely to follow in their place is almost certain to be much worse.

zoyclem on March 15, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Someone asked me what Obama would do regarding Libya when this all started.

My answer: Mess things up even worse.

scotash on March 16, 2011 at 2:19 PM