Hosni Mubarak got eight days of protests before Barack Obama demanded his resignation in a speech. Libyan thug Moammar Gaddafi got 16 days before Obama called for him to leave power, and eventually went to war to push for his removal. Today, one hundred and fifty-six days into Syrian protests and brutal crackdowns that have left hundreds and possibly thousands dead, Obama finally got around to demanding Bashar Assad’s ouster as dictator of Syria … in a written statement:
President Obama called on Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, a demand aimed to ratchet up the diplomatic pressure on the leader who has launched a bloody crackdown on his own people for months.
“For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Obama said in a statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak shortly about a new executive order to allow for additional sanctions against the Assad regime, the New York Times reported, quoting an official who described the new measures as a “tough action that will lend additional force” to the administration’s demands.
What took so long? Obama tossed our nominal ally Mubarak under the bus in eight days, a man who kept a cold peace with Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood under control. But the White House insisted that Assad was a “reformer,” despite his alliance with Iran, his links to Hezbollah’s terrorism in Lebanon, and assistance to Hamas in attacking Israel. The last four months gave a steady stream of images and testimony to Assad’s ideas of “reform,” which were not only remarkably similar to his father’s but also got demonstrated most notably in the same town his father nearly buried for its dissent, Hama.
National Journal says the Obama administration will next “escalate the diplomatic pressure on Damascus,” but that may be more difficult now than before. After watching how the Obama administration treated its ally Mubarak, the other nations in the region understood that the US was not going to be much of an ally for them, either. The Saudis are furious about Mubarak’s treatment, for instance, and his ongoing trial won’t help matters. The Saudis have already recalled their ambassador to Damascus, a step that Obama still hasn’t taken, unless it’s part of today’s sanctions. The rest of the Arab League will probably take the Saudi’s lead on Assad, not Washington’s, and certainly not after the embarrassing suck-up of the last four months from Obama to Assad while his army slaughtered people in the street.
This is what Obama calls “smart power.”
Update: Yes, we do have an ambassador to Syria — Robert Ford. When the Senate wouldn’t act to confirm him, Obama gave him a recess appointment last December.