Turn the Heat Up on Assad

(Huffington Post) Amb. Marc Ginsberg - Syria has benefited greatly as Iran's pawn, reaping enormous amounts of Iranian economic largess for its services as doorman to Hizbullah's growing domination of Lebanon - a domination that serves Syria's barely disguised claims to Lebanon, as well. President Obama's engagement effort was a reasonable, but ultimately futile exercise because Washington had not developed any meaningful leverage against Assad if he continued his old ways. Too often, Washington looked the other way at Assad's domestic repression and his overt support for terrorism in the name of safeguarding a future possibility of neutralizing Syria's potential troublemaking role to thwart a U.S.-brokered peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Assad has no more credit left in that bank account and he has blackmailed us enough into believing Syria is the yellow brick road to peace in the Middle East. It is not. Given Assad's record and what his continuation in office would mean to weakened U.S. policy prospects in the Middle East, I would wager that the U.S. from almost every conceivable vantage point is better off with the Assad family gone. President Obama needs to ratchet up the rhetoric against Assad and his regime to provide far more moral support to the protestors. In addition, after safeguarding the evacuation of Americans from Syria, Washington should begin seizing the assets of prominent Syrian government officials directly responsible for the violence, including members of the Assad family. The administration should place Assad on notice that the U.S. will lead efforts to present international criminal charges against him and anyone else in his government directly or indirectly responsible for killing innocent Syrians unless he yields power in a negotiated exit. Syria's people, like their Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan fraternal Arab democrats, deserve to know that America will stand by them as best as we can against a regime that has no further legitimacy. The writer was appointed in 1994 by President Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, the first American of Jewish heritage to be appointed ambassador to an Arab nation.

2011-04-12 00:00:00

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